France’s deadly antibiotics habit laid bare

The dangers of France’s massive consumption of antibiotics has been laid bare with new figures revealing that 13,000 people die each year due to infections from bacteria that are resistant to the drugs.

France's deadly antibiotics habit laid bare
France's addiction to anti-biotics is killing thousands. Photo: AFP

France urgently needs to cut its consumption of antibiotics, the country's health minister has said after worrying new figures showed that 160,000 people each year were contracting infections from “multi-resistant” bacteria.

As many as 13,000 people were losing their lives.

“The figure is bad. It’s enormous,” said health minister Marisol Touraine, adding that the huge consumption of antibiotics in France was aiding the appearance of resistant bacteria.

She has vowed to cut France’s consumption of antibiotics and bring the death toll down and has backed patient groups that the issue should become a national cause in 2016.

The problem France faces was highlighted in a report earlier this year which concluded that France was a nation addicted to antibiotics.

The survey by the National Agency for Medical Safety (ANSM) showed that the French take 30 percent more antibiotics than the European average and three times the amount of pills popped in places like Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands.

The rate at which the French consume antibiotics is also 35 percent higher than in the US.

The ANSM's Philippe Cavalié summed up the problem in France, saying: “There is a very high expectation on the part of patients to exit their doctor's office with a prescription for antibiotics and doctors do not always know how to resist this pressure.”

Earlier this year the World Health Organisation called on pharmaceutical companies to increase research into molecules that are more effective against super-resistant bacteria as well as looking at alternative treatment methods.

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French minister calls for Eurovision winner to be disqualified if singer fails drug test

France's Europe minister on Monday called for "total transparency" over speculation that one of Italy's victorious Eurovision contestants used cocaine during the song contest, saying it should be grounds for disqualification if confirmed.

French minister calls for Eurovision winner to be disqualified if singer fails drug test
France's entry, Barbara Pravi, said she didn't care whether Måneskin had used drugs or not. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

Damiano David, the outlandish vocalist for Italian rockers Måneskin, has agreed to take a drug test after video footage appeared to show him snorting something from a table backstage during Saturday’s contest.

“I think there needs to be no doubt here, and total transparency,” Europe Minister Clement Beaune, who attended the show in Rotterdam, told RMC radio. “If there is a problem, there are penalties… Provisions are made for sanctioning measures, including potential disqualification in case of problems.” 

French hopes had been riding high on singer Barbara Pravi, who was a bookmakers’ favourite to end France’s 44-year Eurovision drought with her
moody ballad “Voila.”

But she was edged out at the last minute by a surge in public votes for Måneskin, with a final tally of 524 to Pravi’s 499.

“I don’t want to be a sore loser,” Beaune said, but “in terms of image, we can’t let people think that such competitions can result in such behaviour.”

The president of France’s public broadcasting group, however, said Monday that France would not contest its second-place finish, no matter the speculation over David’s backstage antics.

“France has absolutely no intention to lodge an appeal,” France Televisions chief Delphine Ernotte told the Parisien newspaper. “The vote was quite clearly in Italy’s favour — it didn’t steal its
victory and that’s what matters,” she said.

Pravi herself said she was not interested in the speculation.

“What’s true is that they were chosen by both the public and the jury. Afterwards, if they use drugs or they put their underwear on backwards or whatever… it’s not my problem,” she told France 2 television on Sunday.