France pharma companies sound gas warning

Pharmaceutical companies in France are warning about the consequences of possible gas cuts this winter and saying its 271 production sites must be prioritised for energy supply to ensure business continuity and treatments for patients.

Professional organisation Leem said the unprecedented energy crisis has a new impact on industrial production and requires “exceptional sobriety efforts” throughout France.

It said it was “very concerned” by the announcement of a rotating plan of energy shedding, which can be activated at the height of winter by the public authorities.

“Exemptions for certain establishments can be identified by prefectural decree. However, many pharmaceutical laboratories are currently being notified by the prefectures that they are not a priority, both for electricity and for gas,” it stated.

However, any cut or rationing of electricity or gas will lead to work stoppages with serious consequences for the production and supply of medicines.

An unanticipated power outage lasting more than 15 minutes can indeed lead to an interruption of activity; several hours, even several days, are then necessary for the resumption of activity of the industrial sites, and up to several weeks in the case of a bio-production site, to which is added the destruction of the drugs whose production was in progress.

For cost and safety reasons related to the storage of gasoline, very few pharmaceutical sites have generators that would allow at least partial continuity of activity. Natural gas is also a raw material, with no alternative, essential for the chemical synthesis of a large number of essential drugs.

Faced with this imminent danger, Leem calls for a clear position to be taken at national level by the authorities, to protect all players in the pharmaceutical sector by avoiding any energy shedding.

“As French people’s access to their treatments is a public health issue, it is essential that industrial drug sites be explicitly exempted from power cuts and gas rationing,” insists Thierry Hulot, President of Leem.

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