In 2020, France took part in 319 of the 2,972 clinical trials conducted worldwide, equivalent to 11%. This performance propelled it back into Europe’s top three, behind Spain and Germany.
France still ranks second for oncology (15% participation in trials worldwide) and fourth for early-stage trials (5% participation). It ranks fourth in Europe for clinical trials on Covid.
Oncology accounts for 45% of the trials conducted in France, rare diseases 20%, immune system disorders 9%, and Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs) 8%.
“This survey presents an accurate and thorough description of how the attractiveness of France for clinical research has developed, thus providing the performance and competitiveness feedback that all clinical trial stakeholders need,” says Thomas Borel, Scientific Director at LEEM.
2020 was dramatically affected by Covid, targeted by 246 clinical trials. It also saw a shift in dynamic between the major regions of the world: while North America retained its top position, Europe dropped from second to third place behind Asia.
France’s research and development sector is highly competitive in terms of skill levels and structure. In oncology, infectious diseases, and rare diseases, for example, it has adopted ambitious public policies and boasts world-renowned healthcare and research institutions.
However, France is afflicted by a slow regulatory approval process. On average, in 2020, regulatory approval was issued after 236 days (excluding Covid trials). “Procedures and stakeholder coordination could be better,” reckons Thomas Borel, Scientific Director at LEEM.
European regulations on clinical research will change on January 31, 2022. When several European countries conduct a clinical trial together, one of them will act as the group’s principal reporter and will submit the application dossier to its own national approval body, which should speed up the process (the other countries will, however, give their opinion).
“LEEM and the French government aim to position France as the European leader in clinical research,” recalls Dr Borel. This is one of the goals of the 2030 Health Innovation Plan announced in June 2021 by President Emmanuel Macron.