Roche chairman sees opportunities for drugmakers under Trump

The chairman of Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche, Christoph Franz speaks to media after the annual general meeting in Basel March 4, 2014. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

ZURICH (Reuters) - Fears U.S. President Donald Trump could damage the drugs industry have not been realized and the administration’s efforts to accelerate new medicine approvals will bolster the sector, the chairman of Swiss drugmaker Roche said.

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants to trim the time it takes for drugs to be approved,” Christoph Franz told Swiss newspaper Blick in an interview published on Friday.

“European regulators, when it comes to approving new medicines, are lagging the Americans by around six to 12 months. Europe has some catching up to do.”

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, whom Trump brought in, aims to approve drugs based on very early data if they show a possible survival benefit, among other measures to get medicines on the market faster.

After he was elected, Trump blasted drug companies, saying they had been “getting away with murder” with high prices.

While the Trump administration has since sought to change how hospitals are reimbursed for some drugs, his selection of Gottlieb, with deep ties to the drug industry, eased worries that he would seek a confrontation.

“Fears that Trump would damage the pharmaceuticals branch have not been realized,” Franz, who was in Davos for the World Economic Forum meeting, told Blick in the interview.

“It’s quite the opposite. We see new opportunities.”

Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Mark Potter