The active ingredient that is used to produce one of the most popular analgesics in France could be relocated to Isère in the coming years. Pharmaceutical industry The battle for paracetamol.
Pharmaceutical industry The battle for paracetamol
This is one of the few concrete commitments the government has made on industrial relocation. In mid-June, visiting the Sanofi site in Marcy-l’Etoile, near Lyon, the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, announced that he wanted to repatriate part of the production of paracetamol to France.
Coming out of the first epidemic wave of coronavirus, marked in particular by tensions over the supply of the painkiller molecule, the executive seemed to realize the strategic issue around drug sovereignty. “Work is thus engaged with Seqens, Upsa and Sanofi (three of the main manufacturers of paracetamol – Editor’s note) so that, within three years, France is able to reproduce, package and distribute paracetamol”, explained two days after the presidential visit the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, and Agnès Pannier-Runacher, at the time Secretary of State to the Ministry of the Economy and since then become Minister Delegate for Industry.
Relocated for 1 cent per box
An envelope of 200 million euros was then put on the table by the executive to contribute to this relocation. Since this announcement, the site has indeed been opened, and negotiations are going well between the industrialists and the State. But the CGT, determined not to remain a spectator, has also invested in the field to try to be heard. “We will discuss with the boss of Seqens in the days to come, but, until now, nobody wanted to see us”, points out Bernard Ughetto, referent of the National Federation of Chemical Industries (Fnic) CGT for Isère.
One site is already concentrating all hopes: that of the Roussillon chemical platform, in Isère, which until 2008 hosted the last manufacturing plant for acetaminophen (Apap), the active ingredient in paracetamol, in Europe. . Owned and then closed by Rhodia – a group since acquired by Solvay – this establishment employed 43 people to produce up to 8,000 tonnes of the chemical compound annually. Deemed not profitable enough against Chinese factories – a kilo of Chinese paracetamol costing laboratories 2 to 3 euros, against 4 euros per kilo for the Isère production – the management of Rhodia had decided to close the Roussillon site. If the difference in cost may seem considerable, it should be put into perspective, for the CGT. “Today, even with declining tablet prices, the share of the active ingredient remains very low in your paracetamol tablets, at most, from 2% to 2.5% of the total price paid by the consumer in pharmacies, explains Fnic CGT. Relocating to China saved 25% on the cost of the active ingredient, which amounts to less than a penny per box. No limit to the greed of shareholders! », Continues the union.