French Drug Sector Moves to Arrest R&D Decline

April 7, 2005

A recent industry conference in Paris has highlighted the decline of the French R&D sector, with drugmakers and hospitals pledging to "mobilise" efforts to coordinate public-private research partnerships and boost clinical trials.

Recent reports on the R&D sector have not been positive, with a number of leading multinationals withdrawing their involvement in high-profile research centres in recent months. Such companies have included major research players such as Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb and national champion sanofi-aventis, as drugmakers look to lower-cost locations for their innovation activities.

Last year, a survey conducted by France's Academy of Sciences echoed the gloomy outlook. The report noted that only three of the 60 major molecules discovered in recent years have come from French R&D, and claimed that France has been losing its share of the clinical trials market at a rate of 5% per year since 1995, accounting for just 10% of global studies in 2004.

Nevertheless, it is clear that France's government is committed to arresting the decline of R&D in the country, although it remains to be seen whether recent grand projects in biotech and more conventional research will bear fruit. France continues to be Europe's leading drug manufacturer, and the financial base for much of the necessary work clearly remains in existence.