The world will have 9 billion inhabitants in 2050. For over half of them, life expectancy will exceed 60 years. With a growing and ageing population come major health challenges, not least chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer. With 3,100 companies (including multinational champion Sanofi) generating a yearly turnover of €90bn ($99bn), France stands out as a key player in the global healthcare industry. And a successful one: French medicines generated a trade surplus of €7.7bn ($8.5bn) last year, a +13% increase from 2017. The country of Louis Pasteur is also a global leader in vaccines, exporting 85% of its production.
This performance relies on a talent pool of well-trained doctors, researchers and engineers. France indeed leads biomedical research thanks to top-notch research centers like CNRS, Inserm or Institut Pasteur. It boasts 13 Nobel Prizes in medicine and 14 in physics. It continues to make worldwide breakthroughs like skin graft or the first auto-regulating, bioprosthetic artificial heart.
Public bodies are acting to reinforce the dynamics. In the months to come, the government intends to launch a Health Data Hub which will gather anonymized data from hospitals and medical records. That achievement should boost research and innovation as entrepreneurs will be able to analyze huge volumes of relevant data with the help of algorithms. “Artificial intelligence will disrupt medical research and healthcare”, sums up Fields medal winner and French MP Cédric Villani, in the “AI for humanity” report.
Last but not least, France is the second country worldwide (after the USA) for the number of publicly-listed biotech companies. The country claims to host around 700 biotech startups. Knowing that in a few decades, most treatments will come from biotech, that leadership bodes well for the future of the French healthcare industry.