France gives vaccine industry a booster

France’s president has unveiled plans to boost domestic production of medicines.

Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday (June 16) dropped by a plant belonging to pharmaceutical giant Sanofi.

There he pledged 200 million euros, or about 225 million dollars, to help research and manufacturing related to vaccines and other drugs.

He also said his government would announce plans on Thursday (June 18) to bring some production back from overseas.

Macron says medicines are also an economic issue:

"Because, yes, even if the health crisis enters into a less acute phase today, the economic crisis and the social consequences that will result from it, will start to be felt fully by our people. Therefore, we have to fight today, to re-start our economy and the investments, to limit as much as possible the lay-offs that are, in certain cases unavoidable.”

Drug production has become a hot topic in France.

That after Sanofi boss Paul Hudson in May hinted that the U.S. could get priority access to its vaccines, as it had provided more funding.

He soon backtracked, after that sparked a political storm in France.

And on Tuesday was carefully on-message:

"I would like to tell you today, that as the leading French and European pharmaceutical company, Sanofi is committed to help the other European countries in building their healthcare sovereignty."

There are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19.

Final-stage clinical trials of Sanofi’s vaccine are due to start late this year or early next.

Over the weekend France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands struck a deal to secure 400 million doses of another vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca.

On Tuesday the UK firm said it expected its product to provide protection from the disease for about a year.