The shift of EU pharmaceutical policy will put Europe’s security at risk (2) by promoting profit over public health and is in contradiction with how pharmaceutical policy is governed in all 28 EU Member States. With the responsibility for pharmaceutical and medical devices policies removed from Dr Andriukaitis’ portfolio, he will not be able to fulfil his mandate to ensure pandemic preparedness and develop expertise on performance assessments of health systems. This will affect (3) the well-being of more than 500 million people living in Europe.

The public health community has joined forces with ten EU Member States (4), the president of the European Parliament (5), and several MEPs (6) in calling on President-elect Juncker for a "satisfactory response" to the shift of pharmaceutical policy ahead of the Commissioners’ hearings by moving it back to the health portfolio of the European Commission.

In his response (7) to an open letter (8) sent by 35 public health organisations, President-elect Juncker explained that the objective of the move was “a deeper and fairer internal market with a strengthened industrial base”. This assessment is disconcerting as it fails to recognise that medicines are not an ordinary internal market good and that pharmaceutical policy is crucial to the sustainability of health systems, not solely an instrument for promoting economic growth.

EPHA would like to respond to arguments made that Juncker’s decision could be beneficial to innovation (9). Neither innovation in the pharmaceutical sector, patient safety, nor public health are included in the mission letter (10) of Commissioner-designate Bieńkowska. Market incentives are not fit tools to address public health and patient needs, both of which should be the main driving forces behind pharmaceutical policy. Promoting innovation and competitiveness are also important components of the pharmaceutical sector, but this can only be achieved in coordination with other policies, not by jeopardizing a coherent EU health policy.

“I call on all MEPs to make the reversal of this decision to move pharmaceutical policy to the Commissioner for Enterprise, a requirement of the European Parliament’s endorsement of Mr Juncker’s College of Commissioners-designate,” concluded Emma Woodford, EPHA Interim Secretary General.

- Contact information

Javier Delgado Rivera, EPHA Communications Coordinator at or +32(0) 2 230 3076.

- Notes to the editors

(1) Earlier this month, when announcing his College of Commissioners-designate, Mr Juncker revealed that health technology and pharmaceutical policy will be moved from the competences of the Commissioner-designate for Health and Food Safety, Dr Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, to the portfolio of Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner-designate for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.

(2) [Press release] Juncker puts Europe’s security at risk by promoting profit over public health.

(3) These items are included in the mission letter of Dr Andriukaitis.

(4) A proposal on the move tabled by the Belgian Health Minister during an informal Health Council meeting on 23 September was supported by colleagues from France, Cyprus, Austria, Greece, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Lithuania, Portugal and Romania.

(5) Schulz demands response from Juncker on environment and health portfolios, European Voice, 26 September

(6) Strong voice of EU leaders, academics, and health organisations united against the EU Commission pharma policy move.

(7) Mr Juncker’s response letter can be read here

(8) [Open Letter] To President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker on move of medicinal products and health technologies to the portfolio of the Commissioner for internal market and industry.

(9) It was reported that at the Informal EPSCO Council, the Polish Health Minister put forward these arguments. EPHA wrote a joint letter with Polish Civil Society Organisations to express concerns about this statement.

(10) Mission letter Commissioner-designate for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.

EPHA Media mentions on the shift on European pharmaceutical policy

EPHA profiles of European Commissioners-designate key for public health

- Vytenis Andriukaitis - European Commissioner-designate for Health and Food Safety

- Cecilia Malmström » European Commissioner-designate for Trade

- Phil Hogan » European Commissioner-designate for Agriculture

- Marianne Thyssen » European Commissioner-designate for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility

- Frans Timmermans » European Commissioner-designate for Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, the Rule of Law, and and Charter of Fundamental Rights

- Vĕra Jourová » European Commissioner-designate for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality

[Press release] EPHA urges European Parliament to reject moving EU pharma policy to enterprise portfolio

Last modified on September 30 2014.