Saturday

16th Feb 2019

Focus

Health experts wary of commission reshuffle

  • Will health technology and pharmaceutical policy services fall under the Commission’s health directorate or the more lobby-friendly internal market directorate? (Photo: Gusset/Flickr)

Medical experts fear an organisational reshuffle in the European Commission will prioritise the economics of health care over patients' well-being, with significant implications for combating chronic diseases.

Incoming EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker moved the health technology and pharmaceutical policy services from the Commission’s health directorate to the more lobby-friendly internal market directorate.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Norbert Lameire - the acting chair of the European Chronic Disease Alliance (Photo: ECDA)

The services of the European Medicines Agency is responsible for market authorisation of pharmaceutical products and would then respond to the internal market directories, with critics fearing this would mean more emphasis on money rather than on patients.

The move was so criticised by MEPs and NGOs that Juncker may move it back into the health portfolio or may opt to have the two directorates share responsibility for the EMA. A final decision has not yet been made.

One of the medical experts following the developments keenly is Norbert Lameire, the acting chair of the European Chronic Disease Alliance - a group representing over 100,000 health professionals across Europe.

“The European Union is primarily an economic union, but that is not the way that we meet our patients in the medical community,” he told this website.

"The original proposal of Juncker to move these issues of the agency and health technology to an economic DG could easily give the impression that economics come before health and before the well-being of the patient - something that we cannot accept," Lameire said.

"I hope that it will be reversed and that it will go back to where it belongs in DG Sanco where it was before," he said of the EMA.

“We are concerned that in particular the economic and cost issues would have an overwhelming impact on the management of acute and chronic diseases," Mr Lameire added.

At the same time, he makes the economic argument for acting to prevent chronic diseases, the incidence of which is now characterised by the World Health Organisation as an epidemic.

“We spend 97 percent of the total budget for chronic diseases alone on care and management and only three percent on prevention,” said Lameire. “This is an enormous discrepancy.”

Chronic diseases and how to deal with them are slowly coming to the political foreground as ageing populations and increased life expectancy mean health systems are being put under more and more pressure.

"We will never be able to eliminate chronic diseases, but we can reduce it. And we can cut the cost of care and the treatment of the chronic diseases at each level of healthcare in every country in Europe,” said Lameire.

Chronic diseases can often be prevented through dietary changes as well as cutting down on alcohol and smoking.

At the very least though, argues Lameirem the EU needs to be structured in how it deals with the problem.

“Unless we set targets we won't achieve much because we won't be aiming for anything,” he concluded.

Letter

Childhood obesity: Time to put words into action

MEPs from all parties have repeatedly voiced their concerns about the rising levels of childhood overweight and obesity. Yet, when the opportunity arises to put declarations into action, the response falls short.

Chronic Diseases

Chronic diseases are the main cause of death and disability in Europe and the growing trend is straining the region’s healthcare budgets. EUobserver examines the issues.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Chronic Diseases

Chronic diseases are the main cause of death and disability in Europe and the growing trend is straining the region’s healthcare budgets. EUobserver examines the issues.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us