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

In 2017, France provided US$47 million for research and development (R&D) on poverty-related and neglected diseases (PRNDs), referred to as ‘global health R&D’ in this profile. In 2017, it was the sixth-largest public funder. These figures are based on the G-FINDER survey conducted by Policy Cures Research. France has strong expertise on HIV/AIDS research and ranks fourth among European countries and fourth in the world on the number of scientific publications produced.

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Funding has been decreasing since 2013, when funding peaked at US$76 million. In line with France’s priorities for global health, health R&D funding focuses on the three big pandemics: HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. In 2017, they accounted for 60% of France’s health R&D funding. HIV/AIDS received US$18 million (28%), malaria US$11 million (17%), and tuberculosis US$10 million (15%). Research on kinetoplastids follows with US$7 million, or 11%. These figures may differ from the trend numbers presented in the chart due to changes in the scope of the G-FINDER survey from year to year

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$1.2 million in 2017) through the French Development Agency (AFD).

According to G-FINDER data, three institutions carry out or coordinate the bulk of France’s global health R&D funding (93% in 2017): the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM; 54% or US$36 million), the Institut Pasteur (29% or US$19 million), and the French National Research Agency (ANR; 10% or US$6 million).

  • INSERM is a public institution that is dedicated to human health. Research mainly focuses on HIV/AIDS, diarrheal diseases, and bacterial pneumonia and meningitis. INSERM draws most of its resources from the Ministry of Education (68% of its budget, or €619 million in 2018 (US$698 million)). The French National Agency for Research on AIDS and Viral Hepatitis (ANRS) is an autonomous agency that is part of INSERM, and REACting, an interdisciplinary consortium that focuses on epidemic preparedness and response, operates under INSERM leadership.
  • The Institut Pasteur is a private nonprofit foundation that seeks to contribute to the prevention and treatment of diseases through research, education, and public-health activities. Its sources of funding are diverse. It benefits from grants from the Ministry of Higher Education (around 20% or €59 million of its budget in 2018 (US$67 million)). It generates slightly above a quarter of its revenues (26%) through research contracts and services, and around 31% comes from donations, bequests, or endowments. Within global health R&D, the Institute spent US$19 million in 2017, mainly allocated to diarrheal diseases, malaria, kinetoplastids, and tuberculosis. The Institut Pasteur is also one of the founding members of the DNDi.
  • 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$6 million in 2017. 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. Calls for tenders are published every year to determine which projects will be funded.

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.

REACTing to infectious diseases emergencies through R&D programs

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, Institut Mérieux. It aims to contribute to the response to epidemics and infectious diseases through two types of action:

  • During ‘peacetime’, improvement of in-country preparedness to set up R&D projects
  • When an epidemic breaks out, mobilize a rapid intervention force to respond quickly and set up emergency research programs