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The French prosecution services have been asked to launch a probe after an investigation by Mediapart revealed that medical experts in charge of key medicines regulation bodies were secretly moonlighting as consultants for pharmaceutical firms. France’s health minister Marisol Touraine has also ordered an inquiry. The investigation by this website shows how this tight-knit network of friends, all senior medical personnel, sat on committees that approved medicines as safe and, crucially, recommended which new medicines should have their costs refunded by the state-backed health insurance system. At the same time they were receiving cash payments or gifts for secretly advising pharmaceutical firms on how to present those very same new products to the authorities. These clandestine meetings cost the drugs companies up to 60,000 euros a time. Some of the medical officials have admitted their involvement but say there was no conflict of interest, others have denied the claims. There are also allegations that some medical experts even solicited large sums in return for agreeing to favour a drug's application. Michaël Hajdenberg and Pascale Pascariello report on an affair that raises serious questions about the moral integrity of the French health system.
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