President-elect of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker has moved regulation of pharmaceuticals, including drug pricing and medical devices, out of the hands of the new commissioner for health, Dr Vytenis Andriukaitis, and into the portfolio of the commissioner for enterprise, Elzbieta Bienkowska.
On Monday in the Financial Times, Emma Woodford, Interim Secretary-general of the European Public Health Alliance, Brussels, Belgium wrote about Juncker’s decision to return this industry to an environment whuch she alleges favours profit and secrecy over universal access to medicines and transparency.
These dossiers were moved to the health directorate in the first place in response to the H1N1 virus, when member states stockpiled Tamiflu at great expense but the drug proved less effective than expected. Ms Woodford continues:
Should another pandemic break out now, we will be faced with similar problems if the pharmaceutical industry is regulated in the interests of profit rather than public health.
East Midlands Glenis Willmott is the MEP member of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee who steered the 2014 Medical Products Regulation through the Parliament. She has called on Mr Juncker to reverse his decision:
“When I was negotiating the transparency laws for clinical trial results, it was DG Enterprise that wanted to water the rules down. Now they will be overseeing the European Medicines Agency as it implements the transparency regime, which is frankly concerning.
“This was a bad decision from President Juncker, I hope he will quickly come to his senses and rectify it.”