More Details Emerge From France R&D Council
Substantive proposals to revive France's ailing drug R&D sector have emerged from a second meeting of the country's high-level Strategic Council for the Healthcare Industry. The group was set up in late September last year, and published a series of early-stage objectives last month.
Representatives of domestic and foreign drugmakers, including sanofi-aventis, Ipsen, Serono, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Takeda, as well as four government ministers, confirmed draft plans to boost spending in the sector. The proposals are expected to boost R&D staff by 50,000, with 6,000 of this total entering new fields of study. The committee has also announced a monitoring system for R&D sector performance.
Most significantly, the council endorsed government measures that envisage a cut in taxes on patent fees from 19% to 15%. By itself, this move is expected to cost the authorities some EUR250mn (US$324.33mn) and make France's patent fees the lowest in the European Union (EU).
Perhaps more in line with the French government's interventionist thinking, a series of tax rebates for R&D activity, based on an assessment of each applicant's status within European industry, are also on the table.
Other plans include a series of grants totalling more than EUR69mn for projects to support sample libraries and clinical imaging technology, and a variety of advanced training schemes for clinical research staff will also become available. In line with EU plans to allow patent extensions for existing drugs, which are newly tested for paediatric indications, France intends to offer further incentives for children's medicine.
Last month, the group's early-stage proposals included the creation of new administrative centres for clinical trials, the estimated EUR35mn (US$47.38mn) cost of which is to be met from new taxes on health products advertising and funds from hospital budgets. However, the government is likely to remain acutely conscious of the need to maintain cost-benefit competitiveness against alternative R&D locations, as it attempts to turn around a reported 25% decline in clinical trials in France since 1999.