[Ip-health] Reuters: EC under fire for making medicines industrial, not health issue

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Fri Sep 12 07:39:43 PDT 2014


EC under fire for making medicines industrial, not health issue
9:26am EDT

LONDON, Sept 12 (Reuters) - New European Commission President Jean-Claude
Juncker came under fire from health campaigners on Friday for his plan to
shift responsibility for medicines to the Commission's industrial division
from health.

Juncker announced earlier this week the proposal to move the supervision of
medicines and health technology from the directorate general (DG) for
Health and Consumers to the DG for Enterprise and Industry as part of a
broad reallocation of portfolios.

The supervision of medicines is a hot topic in Europe, following a series
of rows over access to clinical trial data, which lobbyists say should be
freely available so that doctors can properly assess safety and

Health Action International, a non-profit group critical of many drug
industry practices, said it was "appalled" by Juncker's plan, arguing it
would put the profit-driven interests of companies at the heart of European
policymaking on medicines.

The European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) and the European consumer
organisation BEUC were also critical of a decision they said would put
public interests behind commercial ones in drug authorisation procedures.

"This is a potential disaster," said EPHA president Peggy Maguire, who
noted that outgoing European Commission President Manuel Barroso had
transferred pharmaceuticals to Health in 2009 to ensure a greater focus on
public health interests.

The position of the European Medicines Agency - Europe's equivalent to the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration - is a particular concern of critics,
although a spokesman for the London-based watchdog said its role would not

"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 Martin
Harvey Allchurch.

Richard Bergstrom, director general of the European Federation of
Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, representing drug
manufacturers, said he was confident the change would not affect the
impartiality of EU regulation.

"I trust the people in these units have the integrity to continue to put
patient safety first," he said. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler
Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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