GlaxoSmithKline chief executive Andrew Witty has taken over as head of the body that represents the research-based pharmaceutical industry operating in Europe.

Mr Witty is succeeding Arthur Higgins, chief executive of Bayer HealthCare, as the president of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations. He is taking over at a “challenging time, when the policy considerations of healthcare have probably never been more pertinent”.

Mr Witty went on to say that Europe needs “a 21st century approach to healthcare”, one that provides access to “optimal and equitable quality of care in a manner that is sustainable”. He added that “we need policies that make this a reality, as well as policies that recognise innovation, equipping us to develop new medicines and therapies that citizens seek.”

Having acted as vice president of EFPIA since 2008, Mr Witty thanked Mr Higgins “for the focus he brought to the role of president, and the solid base it provides”. As a result of the latter’s efforts, “we are well prepared for future engagement and cooperation with the new Commission, European Parliament, member states, patients and other stakeholders,” he concluded.