Insider Insights

France – Clinical trials: an improved 2021 but threatened with an uncertain future


Government efforts made in 2021 have been effective and measurably increased the attractiveness of France for conducting clinical research.  

According to a survey by LEEM, a federation of drug companies, the attractiveness of France for conducting clinical trials has improved in 2021, in part down to the reduction of regulatory delays prior to launching them. This momentum was set in motion by the implementation of the Health Innovation 2030 plan and reduced average delays down to 176 days, compared to 204 days in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic. This reduction and other measures have positioned France in Europe’s top 3 for the number of clinical trials conducted. It now sits alongside Germany in participating in 13% of international trials and according to LEEM stands out particularly in early phase oncology trials.  

LEEM does however reiterate that this progress is threatened by unfavourable national plans, in particular it highlights that effort of Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) will not be able to counterbalance a draft law on the financing of social security (PLFSS) for 2023. This will degrade the attractiveness of France for research companies and Thierry Hulot, the president of LEEM, has pointed out that an inability to attract clinical research will also impact patients’ access to innovative treatments.  

This is also part of a more general decline for Europe as a location for conducting clinical trials. On 7th November 2022, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries (EFPIA) published a Charles River Associates report on Europe’s attractiveness, and the findings have confirmed this decline. It found that Europe’s share of global clinical trials activity on cutting edge medicines has fallen to 19% in 2020, compared to an average of 25% over the past decade.  


  1. Clinical research: an improvement observed in 2021, but already highly threatened| Leem 
  2. Essais cliniques : l’attractivité de la France s’améliore | Les Echos 

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