France - Global health R&D

France is the 6th-largest public funder of global health R&D; it has strong national research institutions

In 2018, France provided US$44 million for research and development (R&D) on poverty-related and neglected diseases (PRNDs), referred to as ‘global health R&D’ in this profile. This makes it the sixth-largest public funder of global health R&D efforts. These figures are based on the G-FINDER survey, conducted by Policy Cures Research.

France's Global health R&D

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France has steadily decreased its R&D funding since it peaked at US$81 million in 2013. France’s health R&D funding focuses on HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, which together accounted for 57% of France’s health R&D funding in 2018. Of total health R&D funding, US$16 million (35%) went to HIV/AIDS, with malaria and tuberculosis each receiving US$5 million (11%). Research on kinetoplastid diseases received US$6 million (13%).

The Ministry for Higher Education, Research, and Innovation is the main public funder for France’s global health R&D. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MAE) contribution to global health R&D is limited to funding provided to the Drugs for Neglected Disease Initiative (DNDi; US$0.7 million in 2018) through the French Development Agency (AFD).

According to G-FINDER data, two institutions carry out or coordinate the bulk of France’s global health R&D funding (87% in 2018): the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM; 66% or US$29 million) and the French National Research Agency (ANR; 22% or US$10 million).

  • INSERM is a public institution where research mainly focuses on HIV/AIDS, diarrheal diseases, bacterial pneumonia, and meningitis. With an annual budget of €913 million (US$1.1 billion), INSERM draws most of its resources from the Ministry of Education (69% of its budget, €630 million, or US$744 million in 2019). The French National Agency for Research on AIDS and Viral Hepatitis (ANRS) is an autonomous agency within INSERM.
  • The French National Research Agency coordinates and allocates public funding for R&D under the direction of the Ministry of Higher Education, however, it does not carry out any research itself. According to G-FINDER data, its global health R&D funding amounted to US$10 million in 2018. Almost a quarter was allocated to INSERM and Institut Pasteur. Other recipients include universities and national research centers, such as the French National Center for Scientific research.

Other key players in France’s global health R&D include:

  • The Institut Pasteur is a private nonprofit foundation involved in research, education, and public-health activities. Its sources of funding are diverse. It benefits from grants from the Ministry of Higher Education (around 20%, €54 million, or  US$64 million of its budget in 2018), generates slightly below one fifth (19%) of its revenues through research contracts and services, and around one quarter (26%) from donations, bequests, or endowments. Within global health R&D, the Institute reported US$16 million to the G-FINDER survey in 2018, mainly allocated to diarrheal diseases, malaria, kinetoplastids, and tuberculosis. The Institut Pasteur is also one of the founding members of the DNDi.
  • REACTing is an interdisciplinary consortium set up within Aviesan, established in 2013 by several research institutes under the leadership of INSERM. Members include INSERM, Institut Pasteur, and Institut Mérieux. REACTing aims to contribute to the response to epidemics and infectious diseases through 1) ‘peacetime’, improvement of in-country preparedness to set up R&D projects, and 2) mobilization of a rapid intervention force during epidemics to respond quickly and set up emergency research programs. The scientific council of REACTing selected 20 scientific initiatives to fight against COVID-19 in record time.

France is taking a strong role in global response to COVID-19. Macron announced an increase of France’s research budget by €5.0 billion (US$5.9 billion) over the next 10 years. On May 4th, 2020 at the EU-hosted global pledging event for the COVID-19 global response, France made a first-time commitment to CEPI (US$50 million). During the latest World Health Assembly, President Macron actively promoted the ACT-A Initiative, a European financing and coordinating effort for vaccine development under WHO leadership.

Decision-making is fragmented but efforts have been made to increase coordination

France’s decision-making landscape for global health R&D is fragmented: The different institutes involved in global health R&D mostly set their own focus areas and research agendas, while the government’s priorities are demonstrated through funding decisions or high-level political declarations.