Vaccine booster for France, big pharma prepared

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Vaccines Vaccine

The French government has announced it will make more vaccines mandatory from 2018 onwards.

Prime minister Philippe Édouard reported the plan at the National Assembly in Paris, France last week, stating that currently only three vaccines are obligatory for children: diphtheria, tetanus and poliomyelitis.

Measles & vaccines in France 

In recent years, the number of measles cases in France has increased, highlighted by a large outbreak​ at the beginning of the decade.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control reported​ an outbreak in the northern province of Lorraine this year, with at least 295 cases reported​ nationwide before the end of May.

Last year, in a 67 country survey on vaccine confidence, online biomedical research journal EBioMedicine​ reported that Europe has the lowest confidence in vaccine safety, with France the least confident globally.

The eight vaccines to be added to the list - pertussis, hepatitis B, mumps, rubella, influenza, pneumonia, meningitis C and measles - are presently recommended by health authorities, but not compulsory.

Pharma ready

A Ministry of Health spokesperson told in-PharmaTechnologist drug companies have the capacity to provide sustained supplies of these vaccines.

“These vaccines are ‘highly recommended’ in France. Around 70% of French children every year get all of the 11 vaccines (three by obligation, eight by recommendation.”

“Pharmaceutical laboratories definitely have the capacity to supply enough doses to cover the expected increased vaccination rate (20% at best, depending on the pathology),” ​the spokesperson told us.

Sanofi’s Jack Cox told us the firm manufactures some of these vaccines in France and North America, and is prepared for the increased demand.

“Some of these vaccines are manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, available mainly as combination vaccines. For example our hexavalent vaccine which immunises against diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, Hib diseases, hepatitis B and pertussis,” ​said Cox.

“These vaccines are currently recommended in France and the vaccine coverage rate of the French population against these diseases is already high.”

“Sanofi Pasteur will be able to manage the increase of supply generated by the French authorities’ decision,” ​he told us.

Cost: patient, government, pharma

The Ministry of Health spokesperson explained the government will incur the majority of vaccine costs.

“The government will pay for 65% of their cost, like it does for the most of the medication in France.”

The rest of the cost is paid by private health cover, which is mandatory in the private sector.

“This means that these vaccines will not cost anything to the people who receive them,” ​the spokesperson said, adding that the government plans to engage in price discussions with drug companies.

“Health minister Agn​ès Buzyn has promised to negotiate lower prices with the pharmaceutical industry,” ​the spokesperson said.

Cox told us the initiative will save the French government health costs in the long-term.

“According to French authorities, the financial impact is evaluated between €10m ​[$11.4m] and €20m (compared to €20bn representing the whole health expenses in France).”

“In addition to the health benefit, the savings generated by the vaccination (treatment of diseases, sequelae…) should also be taken into account,”​ he said.

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