Brussels, 22 Nov 2004
France aims to achieve better results than the US in treating rare diseases, says French Minister for Research, François d'Aubert.
At the launch of the French national plan for rare diseases, Mr d'Aubert announced that the French Ministry for Research is set to dedicate 20 million euro over four years to research on the mainly genetic diseases that affect three million people in France and million people in the EU.
'By capitalising on the measures already taken at EU level for pharmaceutical research on rare diseases, but also by taking into account the headways and discoveries stemming from US and Japanese research, we can reasonably hope for really convincing results,' said Mr d'Aubert.
Mr d'Aubert explained that between 1973 and 1982, the US launched an average of one medicine a year dealing with orphan diseases. Following their national plan of 1982, the average went up to 12. Similarly, in 1980, 200,000 persons a year died from orphan diseases in the US. By 1995 the numbers had dropped to 165,000, meaning that the rate of mortality due to rare diseases as a percentage of total US mortality fell from 11,6 percent in 1980 to 7.8 per cent in 1995.
'Our ambition, with our national plan, is to do better still' said Mr d'Aubert.
The plan aims to devise efficient strategies that will enable significant advances on most of the 700 diseases considered as rare. Over the next four years, the ministries for health and research will dedicate a total of 98 million euro for the fight against rare disease. The investment will also be used to ensure equity for access to diagnosis, treatment and care of the patients.
Mr d'Aubert explained that the research programme funded by his ministry will cover six major fields: epidemiology research, research on genetic and molecular characterisation of rare diseases, physiopathology, diagnostic research, therapeutic research and research on evaluation of the psycho-social consequences of rare diseases.
400,000 euro will also be spent on developing partnerships at European level, said Mr d'Aubert. The French Ministry for Research will look into developing a European platform for rare diseases and encourage more coordination on the availability of biological tests for extremely rare diseases, the development of clinical and biological reference centres, public health indicators and research in general. To read the national plan for rare diseases (in French), please visit: http:///www.recherche.gouv.fr/discours/20 04/dpplanmr.pdf