One of the first proposals made from new European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker might have a deep impact on the pharmaceutical business: within the global framework of the Commission’s plans to reallocate portfolios, pharmaceutical and health technology policy supervision should leave the control of the Health and Food Safety Commissioner to pass to the new Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. Commission’s President Barroso established the opposite direction in 2009, which moved health business under the control of directorate general for Health and Consumers in order to better safeguard public interests.
The proposed change might affect the quarrel between pharma industry and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to give free access to clinical trial data, in order for doctors to better evaluate safety and effectiveness of treatment options. The proposed reallocation now coming from the Commission immediately caused reactions from involved stakeholders.
“I trust the people in these units have the integrity to continue to put patient safety first,” said Richard Bergstrom, director general of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).
“This is a potential disaster. It is disappointing that President-elect Juncker believes these objectives fall a pale second place to appeasing big business. It sends a terrible message during times when criticism is being levelled at Europe: the College of Commissioners should work for the interest of citizens and not anonymous corporate masters,” said Peggy Maguire, President of the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA).
“Clearly, we’ve not been involved in the decision to move the portfolio but it doesn’t change our role, which is to provide independent science-based opinions and advice to the Commission and the member states,” said EMA’s spokesman Martin Harvey Allchurch.