May 20. 2024. 11:42

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French Greens’ top candidate wants ‘European pharmaceutical sovereignty’


Marie Toussaint, the lead of the French Greens’ campaign for the June European elections, presented a plan for a “European pharmaceutical sovereignty” at a press conference on Friday (19 April), after media reported that a French pharma company could be acquired by Indian buyers.

Toussaint’s announcements follow revelations this week in several French media, including Les Echos and Franceinfo, that Servier French pharmaceutical laboratories have put Biogaran up for sale at the end of 2023.

Biogaran is the leading producer of generic medicines in France, employing 8,600 people. Currently, 90% of Biogaran’s production takes place in Europe, and 50% in France.

Four buyers have expressed an interest, including two from India, raising concerns about the possible relocation of production and job losses, according to French media.

For the time being, no commercial offer for Biogaran has been made, according to the media, while Servier has not officially confirmed the information.

“We must act to ensure our health security and learn from the lessons of the COVID crisis we experienced in the past, to deal with any shortages that may arise”, Toussaint said on X.

The Green candidate’s plan aims to build up strategic stocks, create a European public medicines service, create a European right of pre-emption against relocation and, lastly, control prices to guarantee access to essential medicines.

Around 40% of medicines sold in the EU come from outside the bloc, and 80% of manufacturers of molecules used in medicines sold in Europe are located outside the EU, mainly in India and China, according to the Vie Publique website.

“We cannot continue to import 80% of them from China and India. It’s not possible, it’s not acceptable. It’s not good for It’s not good for the health of Europeans, it’s not good for jobs, it’s not good for access to medicines at acceptable prices, so we must put an end to it”, said Toussaint.

The issue of Europe’s pharmaceutical sovereignty has been the subject of much debate, particularly in the wake of the COVID crisis and recent drug shortages.

To remedy this, the European Commission proposed a revision of the pharmaceutical package in April 2023, which was adopted by Parliament on 10 April 2024.

Minister for Industry ‘furious’

The Minister for Industry Roland Lescure said he was “furious” by the prospect of a possible sale of Biogaran by Servier.

“I clearly told Servier laboratories that I did not want them to sell Biogaran,” he said on RMC on Friday.

Lescure pointed out that for several months the government had been implementing a pro-active political strategy to attract major pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, Astra Zeneca, and Novo Nordisk to France.

At a time when France claims to be an attractive location for the pharmaceutical industry, “this is the moment that Servier is choosing to sell (…)”, he complained.

The minister vowed to be “extremely firm” regarding the transaction and promised he would be vigilant regarding the supply of medicines to the French citizens and the production in France.

Of the 508 drugs authorised in Europe between 2017 and 2022, only 48 are manufactured in France, compared with 122 in Germany, 97 in Ireland, 74 in the Netherlands and 53 in Spain, according to the French pharmaceutical industry association Leem.

Pharma Package adopted at first reading with landslide vote, but what next?

After the European Parliament adopted the Pharma Package by a landslide vote at first reading on Wednesday (10 April), it is now at the mercy of the Council and the next Commission – assuming there is a new one in the next six months – and a new Parliament. So what next?

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic/Catherine Feore]

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