Having been the responsibility of the European Commission's DG Enterprise and Industry for many years, pharmaceutical policy in the EU is to be switched to the Health and Consumer Policy directorate, DG Sanco, at the beginning of 2010.
Responsibility for the European Medicines Agency (EMEA, which will now be abbreviated as EMA) will be included in the portfolio of the new Health Commissioner John Dalli, who currently serves as the Minister for Social Policy in Malta.
The switch has been welcomed by consumer associations across the board - from the European Public Health Alliance to the Confederation of Family Organisations in the European Union - and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), who have hailed the move as "a sustained and integrated approach to health policy". Campaigners for the switch have long asserted that responsibility for pharmaceuticals in the EU should lie with the health division, as it does in all the individual member states.
However, Pharm Exec Europe's Brussels correspondent, Reflector, highlighted a point of concern. "Bringing the industry into the ambit of health and consumer affairs will leave it exposed to - and largely undefended from - the views of policymakers," he said. "They focus principally on medicines as a social good, and tend to ignore the industrial imperatives that underlie the exercise of making medicines available."