Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products bids farewell to chief executive officer Xavier De Cuyper

date: 01/09/2023

Xavier De Cuyper, chief executive officer of the Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products, will retire on 1 September 2023. He has been the head of the Belgian medicines agency since 1 May 2007 and had reached the age limit for holding a mandate position in the federal government in 2022. Xavier De Cuyper's mandate expired on 1 March 2022 but to ensure the continuity of the FAMHP's operations and stability, it was extended.

During his career, Xavier De Cuyper has held several key positions in the Belgian public sector. For instance, he was secretary-general of the Ministry of the Middle Classes and Agriculture, director-general at the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain, director-general of the DG Animal, Plant and Food at the FPS Public Health, and chief of staff to several ministers with competence in Agriculture and to two deputy prime ministers.

Since 2007, his career has revolved around medicines policy. As chief executive officer of the Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products (FAMHP), he had a key role in setting national policy on medicines and health products. At European level, he was a member of the Management Board of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and was, and continues to be after his retirement, a member of the Management Board of the French Medicines Agency (Agence nationale de sécurité du médicament et des produits de santé, ANSM). He played an active role within the Heads of Medicines Agencies (HMA), including as a mentor of the Clinical Trials Coordination Group (CTCG).

Xavier De Cuyper: "Since the creation of the FAMHP, I have proudly held the top position of chief executive officer for more than sixteen years. I guarantee my successor a job that fascinates every day, with added value for society, a high-performing team and many interactions with partners inside and outside the government, both nationally and internationally.

There is a lot on the table and the challenges remain very diverse. For instance, addressing availability of medicinal products is a top priority, as unavailability can still have a significant impact on public health. In Belgium, many steps have already been taken with all stakeholders to optimise medicine availability, but more needs to be done. Thorough cooperation with all partners involved and proactive measures are essential, including developing systems to monitor stocks and manage parallel imports. In this context, I took an active role in the recent body focusing on solidarity mechanisms between European member states.

Another challenge is promoting innovation for medical need. The pharmaceutical industry has repeatedly indicated that developing medicinal products for rare diseases poses financial challenges. While the agency's role in this is limited, political initiative must be shown at European and even global level to address this issue. Rethinking medicine funding and reallocating resources for rare disease treatments is a possibility.

Furthermore, the regulation of medical devices should be further improved. While the creation of a European agency for medical devices is not a priority at the moment, attention should be paid to improving guarantees on the quality, safety and effectiveness of these products. Addressing these challenges will be crucial to maintaining and promoting public health in Belgium and Europe.

In our challenging domain and more particularly in the fight against COVID-19, our cooperation model proved to be very efficient. Systematic consultation and thorough cooperation are essential. I am thinking of the fight against illegal pharmaceutical practices. Involving patients was also new and already showed great added value. Without listing all the major achievements here, I can say that our model of dialogue between the competent authority and the partners, not only in terms of financing but also in the implementation of the policy, has led to good results that everyone agrees with. It is true that the minister, the FAMHP and other health institutions remain responsible for public health, but it is essential to be able to rely on the availability and expertise of all partners to fulfil our mission. Our continued collaboration with a commitment to public health, the health of all patients and the welfare of animals in our country and even beyond, produced great results. I therefore want this way of working together to continue in the major national and European projects, such as our spearheads, the review of pharmaceutical legislation, the regulation of reimbursement and the preparation for the European presidency.

I am now passing on the torch after more than sixteen years. The selection of my successor is in the very final stages. You will receive specific information about this as soon as possible. I have had the honour and pleasure of actively participating in the development of the agency from its establishment in 2007 until today. It did not always go according to plan. We also had to deal with a federal government in ongoing matters several times, with a huge impact on the day-to-day operations of the agency. We have since grown into a nationally and internationally recognised organisation. I am convinced that my retirement provides a great opportunity for further strategic progress. With the knowledge and commitment present within the agency, I am confident that my successor will be able to meet the new challenges and that the constructive and fruitful cooperation with FAMHP staff and external partners will continue to ensure high-quality public services to patients. For this and for everything else we have experienced together, I can only thank you!

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Affairs and Public Health Frank Vandenbroucke, by Ministerial Decree of 31 August 2023, appointed Hugues Malonne as Chief Executive Officer and Director General of DG POST authorisation ad interim."

Last updated on 01/09/2023