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France

French press review 29 March 2016

media DR

Are the financial and other relations between French hospital doctors and the big pharmaceutical research companies sufficiently clear to avoid any conflict of interest? And do the recent military setbacks suffered by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria mean that the war against the extremists is coming to an end?

The main story in Le Monde looks at the sometimes dubious links between the medical profession and the big pharmaceutical research companies.

For example, the centrist daily points out that the laboratories spend no less than 30 million euros every year to send doctors working for the Paris public hospitals to medical congresses.

The labs' budget for in-service training and clinical trials runs to hundreds of millions of euros annually.

The reason this is in the news right now is that the report of a six-month internal audit has just been published, with the 38 hospitals concerned, anxious to protect their reputation as independent centres of care and research.

The alarm was sounded in April, 2015 when a lung specialist testified before a Senate committee on air polution and forgot to mention the not insignificant detail that he was being paid tens of thousands of euros every year by the oil company Total.

The latest report is probably not going to change anything very dramatically, suggests Le Monde. Efforts will be made to ensure greater transparency, but research funding and the revenues of certain key specialists will continue to be subsidised by the drug companies.

The long war continues

Le Figaro gives pride of place to the news that the so-called Islamic State armed group has suffered major military setbacks in both Syria and Iraq. However, says the right-wing paper, the loss of large chunks of territory will not not immediately limit the capacity of the terrorists to cause huge damage, as they adapt their strategy to guerilla warfare. The authorities in Syrian and Iraq will, warns Le Figaro, find it extremely difficult to ensure definitive control of the territory they have now won back from the islamist extremists.

The right-wing paper says that the recent successes against Islamic State can be credited to the intervention of the Russians; leaving major question marks over the efficiency of US military policy in the region.

Le Figaro suggests that the end of the Obama administration will continue to be characterised by prudence, and that a real change in Washington's aims and means in the middle east will have to wait until the next president takes over.

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