An investigation by Mediapart has revealed the chaotic management at the highest levels of the French state over the crucial issue of providing protective masks to help tackle the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. Our probe, which has analysed the situation since January and is based on numerous witness accounts and documentary evidence, highlights the hidden shortages, the unreliable health instructions, the neglected offers of help with importing masks, the continuing shortage of stocks and the way that some companies have been favoured. It also reveals the lies that have accompanied this mismanagement. Meanwhile hundreds of nurses have become infected with the virus. Yann Philippin, Antton Rouget and Marine Turchi report.
by Yann Philippin, Antton Rouget and Marine Turchi
The government is trialling four different systems of food labelling in a bid to inform consumers better about exactly what it is they are eating. But food quality watchdogs claim that the nutrition label test being conducted in supermarkets across France has been hijacked by the food producing lobby and should now be abandoned. Karl Laske reports.
Fifty years ago this month, France began carrying out tests of its nuclear bombs in the Pacific Ocean territory of French Polynesia. These were the first of what would become decades of atmospheric and underground nuclear explosions in total disregard for the health of the local population and environment. After years of campaigning, victims of the fallout earlier this month obtained a revision of the rigorous criteria governing financial compensation paid to those who have developed serious illnesses following the tests, and which in effect bars most from receiving any indemnity. But, as Julien Sartre reports, the move has been slammed by victims’ rights associations as simply tinkering at the edges of a shameful legal refusal to recognise the lethal damage caused by the tests.
On January 17th, 2016, a volunteer died after taking part in a drugs trial in the west of France, while four others suffered suspected brain damage. The company who conducted the trial and supervisory authorities have insisted that the tragedy was “unprecedented” and could not have been foreseen. However, new evidence has emerged that a volunteer in a earlier trial with the same drug suffered side effects and that a later MRI scan shows he suffered a stroke. Yet this information appears to have been concealed by the medical and health authorities. Mediapart's science correspondent Michel de Pracontal reports.
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.