Revealed: how bosses of French medicines regulators secretly advised drugs companies

By and Pascale Pascariello

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Senior figures in the French medical sector sat on regulatory bodies that approved the use of new medicines while secretly advising the drugs companies who made them on how best to present their products, Mediapart can reveal. The affair involves a tight-knot circle of friends who, for 20 years, presided over key committees that advised not just on the safety of medicines but, crucially, also on whether their use should be subsidised by France's state-backed health insurance system. For the drugs companies the financial stakes were huge, and Mediapart has learnt that the senior officials were paid in cash for their secret consultancy role. The pharmaceutical firms are said to have paid out up to 60,000 euros for each clandestine meeting. The affair raises serious issues about the ethics of the senior medical personnel involved and their potential conflicts of interest. It also raises wider questions about the financial probity of France's health system itself.