France will bring home production of around 50 crucial medications for which it currently depends on imports, President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday, hoping to battle shortages of items like antibiotics and paracetamol.
Of the initial slate of drugs with a “clear dependence on imports from outside the EU”, 25 “will have their production re-shored or significantly increased… in the coming weeks,” Macron said during a visit to a pharmaceuticals factory in southern France.
The announcement comes after a March survey by pollsters BVA found 37 percent of people had already run into shortages at the pharmacy.
Up to 80 percent of familiar medications like antibiotics and painkillers used in France are produced abroad, especially in China.
Some of the drugs are still made in France, but at volumes that fail to match demand.
Over the winter, Europe faced shortages of key antibiotic amoxicillin and other medications as surging illnesses particularly among children have increased demand for the drugs.
Under Macron’s plan, public money to the tune of 160 million euros ($173 million) will go to support eight of the new projects, including for amoxycillin — produced by British pharma giant GSK in northwestern France — as well as anaesthetics, painkillers and cancer drugs.
Companies would be able to apply for a share of a further 50 million euros in funding, Macron said.
The 50 drugs flagged by Macron are among a list of 450 drawn up by the health ministry for which “we must absolutely secure our supply chains, either by completely re-shoring or diversifying (supply) and continuing to innovate,” the president said.
Tuesday’s pharma announcements mark the first step in a week dedicated to industrial projects, which Macron hopes will move public attention on from the battles over his widely-disliked pension reform.