Two top pharmaceutical industry executives have come out fighting against European regulatory demands that will see investigational compounds being pitted against existing treatments rather than placebo, saying that the move would stifle innovation, and curb drug development.

Speaking in an interview with the Financial Times, Daniel Vasella – chief executive of Switzerland’s Novartis – said that the US Food and Drug Administration’s method of examining new drugs against a placebo was “more meaningful.” He added: “If you set the hurdles too high, you may miss opportunities,” noting that the European method could result in limiting the number of treatment options available for a given condition. “We need to give patients more choice, and doctors may find another drug works better and would prefer four or five choices to one or two,” he is quoted as telling the newspaper.

Meantime, Wyeth’s head of research and development, Robert Ruffolo, told the FT: “If you try to demand that every single drug is better, safer and brings more benefit than all the others, you’ll never see another drug.”