After France failed to complete clinical trials and launch its own COVID-19 vaccine, President Emmanuel Macron now wants to turn things around by giving a €7 billion boost to the medical sector. EURACTIV France reports.
The €7 billion earmarked for the sector is part of its Health Innovation Plan 2030, which aims at encouraging innovation in the medical sector.
This includes €2 billion for biotherapy, digital health and emerging infectious diseases, Macron announced as the Strategic Council for Health Industries (CSIS) met on Tuesday (29 June).
Another €800 million will be dedicated to biotherapies and the bioproduction of innovative therapies that represent 50% of the clinical trials currently underway.
These technologies enable the development of so-called personalised medicine by providing therapeutic solutions in oncology, immunology, virology and for rare diseases, for example.
“During the crisis, many trials were launched but, in the end, they did not always succeed in bringing patients together or were not sufficiently structured,” the presidential office acknowledged in a statement.
There is “a gap in the major fields, for example, biotherapies, where we are 90% dependent on imports. Only five of the last 70 biotherapies have been invented in France,” it added.
“We cannot have a credible discourse by saying: we are rebuilding sovereignty, whether French or European, by having such a level of dependence, which is also the result of under-investment or disinvestment or past errors,” the President also said.
France’s recovery plan, dubbed France Relance, and the future investment programme will be supplemented by a €650 million Digital Health acceleration strategy.
The aim is to “promote the emergence of innovative solutions, based on multidisciplinary scientific approaches and ambitious medico-economic models, to conquer the digital health market, which is growing rapidly worldwide.” For this, the government also hopes to leverage €1.5 billion in private funding.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the plan will allocate almost €750 million for emerging infectious diseases and CBRN (nuclear, radiological, biological and chemical) threats.
The strategy aims to adopt an integrated ‘One Health’ approach, reflecting the awareness of the close links between human and animal health and the global ecological state.
An autonomous health innovation agency
France also wants to create an autonomous and credible health innovation agency, similar to that of the innovation agency for the defence sector.
The aim is for such an agency – whose framework is yet to be defined – to have the means and capacity to act as a link between the various players in the sector.
“The idea is to have a one-stop-shop […] which will make it possible to simplify things, to converge agendas and logics, to have a real cultural revolution, to decompartmentalise and to promote excellence, and also make it possible to be the interlocutor of the future European agency that is being built,” Macron explained.
The initiative is backed by €1.5 billion that will go towards the development of healthcare products in France, and a further €2 billion that will go to health start-ups over the course of five years which will be distributed by France’s public investment bank, BPI France.
Paris also wants to bring back the most promising researchers through the European Research Council by persuading those who wish to move abroad to stay in France and bringing back those who have already left.
Presenting the strategy at EU level
The President also confirmed that such a strategy will be presented at the EU level when France takes over the rotating EU Council presidency on 1 January 2022.
“I also want to do all this as part of a partnership strategy with Germany. We have launched several important projects of common European interest (PIIEC) with Chancellor Merkel in recent months on several of the subjects I have mentioned and within the framework of a European strategy. This is what has led us to launch several major industrial investments,” Macron said.
The announcement comes on the back of concerted efforts at the EU level to foster health innovation, most recently of which included the provisional agreement on health technology assessment (HTA), which should enable EU countries to make “faster evidence-based decisions on patient access” to their health systems.
The provisional agreement is intended to strengthen cooperation on HTA between the EU-27, improve the availability of innovative health technologies such as innovative medicines and certain medical devices for EU patients, ensure efficient use of resources and enhance the quality of HTA in the EU.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic/ Natasha Foote]