The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, has designated Sanofi chief executive Christopher Viehbacher as its new president-elect.

Mr Viehbacher take up the position from Sir Andrew Witty as of June 2013 for a two-year term. The GlaxoSmithKline chief executive has been at the helm of EFPIA since January 2010.

Richard Bergstrom, EFPIA's director-general, said that Mr Viehbacher (pictured) is well placed to take over, coming at a time when "it is important to remind ourselves and others what is needed to sustain research-based pharmaceuticals in Europe". He added that the Sanofi boss was involved in the high-level G10 Medicines group and "has shown his ability to engage with policy-makers worldwide".

Mr Viehbacher said that “I’m extremely honoured by this designation that comes in the midst of a crisis period when high value-added industry such as healthcare sector is what European countries need". He went on to say that "there’s a virtuous economic cycle of investing in education and then research and innovation".

He concluded by saying that the challenge Europe is currently facing "is about managing to reduce government deficits and debt without smothering the opportunity for growth - to make sure that relevant pro-growth, pro-innovation strategies can be activated”.