A laboratory at Sainte-Camille hospital in Bry-sur-Marne. - Lionel GUERICOLAS

  • Every Friday, "20 Minutes" offers a personality to comment on a social phenomenon, in his meeting "20 Minutes ..."
  • Dominique Martin, the director of the Medicines Agency, has been on the front line to fight the coronavirus since its appearance in France.
  • He is delighted with the many attempts underway to find a cure, but calls for caution and requires a little patience.

Like all of us, Dominique Martin no longer differentiates between the days of the week and the weekend. Not because of containment. But because he works tirelessly. Director of the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM), he is the guarantor of the numerous researches currently being carried out to try to find a cure for the coronavirus.

Between two calls to the Minister of Health to keep him informed of the progress of the work, he agreed to answer questions from 20 Minutes . The opportunity to comment on the hopes born from various researches and to return to the enthusiasm aroused by chloroquine despite the risks.

First there was chloroquine. Then nicotine. Recently, there has been talk about the hopes of ivermectin and tocilizumab. Finally, on Wednesday, the United States announced that remdesivir could be an effective product to fight against the coronavirus. Are we right to be enthusiastic with each new search?

The period is more to reason than to enthusiasm. Let's talk about remdesivir, for example. The Gilead laboratory announced that it was producing interesting effects. But a few hours later, another study claimed the opposite ... We are in a difficult period.

There is a very important activity in research. We have never been so fast. This is why so much information circulates. At the Agency, we received 75 requests for clinical trials. Much of it has been authorized. All this in two months. We had never seen this on a single pathology. There is an effervescence in research. Obviously, the industrialist or the academic team who finds the remedy will have a serious advantage over the others.

So we are sure that the research will lead to an effective treatment?

Are we sure? The answer is no. Is there any hope that the research will be successful? The answer is rather yes. With the mobilization of the best researchers on the planet, we can think that this will succeed. But you have to be careful.

We must not imagine that we will find a drug that will annihilate all the effects of Covid-19 for 100% of positive cases. Watch out for science fiction! To the illusion! On the other hand, we can hope for a drug which prevents patients from ending up in intensive care. Or that prevents their health from deteriorating.

A final report shows 257 patients suffering from serious adverse effects after taking drugs in the testing phase. Of which a large half took chloroquine. Where are we on this product?

Each report of adverse effects is the subject of a clinical investigation, it is not a statistical analysis. It is more interesting to analyze each case to identify a safety signal. The risk of heart attack related to taking chloroquine was known. This has not stopped some from taking self-medication. This did not prevent some doctors from self-prescribing ... Between March 15 and 25, there was a fourfold increase in sales of Plaquenil (the drug containing hydroxychloroquine) in town. This was of great concern to us, which is why we have issued a warning.

[Info @ 20Minutes] #Coronavirus #chloroquine
A 42-year-old man in critical condition after trying to treat himself with chloroquine (self-medication ...) He is in intensive care at the Jacques Cartier hospital in Massy.https: //t.co/Ba1DyaLjWq

- Vincent Vantighem (@vvantighem) April 10, 2020

Today, the sales curve has dropped. Even in the hospital - the only place where it is allowed - there is a drop in the use of chloroquine. Probably because there are questions about its effectiveness, and especially about the risks.

Looking back, do you understand how public opinion reacted to chloroquine?

It was incredible. I was able to observe it myself by dealing with people personally. Or caring for friends of friends ... And then it had effects on the research. I have colleagues who have had trouble launching trials on other products. Because the patients only wanted to test chloroquine. And nothing else…

It is not worrying that people have intuitions like Professor Didier Raoult. This is also medicine, the essential place of the empirical dimension. But once you have had an empirical approach, you have to have the scientific approach. Compliant clinical trials are required. It is this approach that must govern us. This is what avoids illusions…

What about research on a possible vaccine?

Worldwide, several teams are working on it. There is a real question about the quality of the human host's immune response. On his production of antibodies. Tests have already been done on animals. In laboratory. We can hope. Some say there is hope for the end of the year. Fingers crossed! But it would never be seen. Next year ? I prefer to think about it.

Making a vaccine is almost the most difficult thing to do. To get it right, look at the flu. We have a vaccine but no treatment. And look at HIV, we have treatment but no vaccine.

Do you think that some French people will be resistant to the vaccine? And what will you tell them if any?

If there is a vaccine, we will probably have the criticisms in good standing of the opposing people and the conspiratorial remarks that we know well. Nothing very new on this. To prevent the resurgence of the coronavirus epidemic, it may be necessary to create a vaccination requirement. Considering what we are going through today, I would be quite in agreement on this.

This government does not seem to be fed up with the seasonal flu that kills so many people! Not to mention the adulterated figures of the number of Covid 19 deaths to dramatize and scare while waiting for the miracle vaccine with rfid and aluminum chips not to mention other filth!

- WW (@ WW22366446) April 26, 2020

Some have a relationship with rationality that questions. When I hear them, I always share what I experienced in the refugee camps when I was a humanitarian doctor. We had measles epidemics. And we had 50 to 80% of the children in a camp who would die. 50 to 80%! Can you imagine 50 to 80% of a generation sacrificed? I say that to people. I say it's easy to criticize vaccines when you're protected. Protected by treatments. Protected by others who get vaccinated!

#Philippe #Coronavirus #plaintes.
On that date, the Republic Court of Justice received 51 complaints against members of the government. A month ago [Cf. my paper of March 26], there were only 5. 🔽
cc @ 20Minuteshttps: //t.co/QcXHq8OxMM

- Vincent Vantighem (@vvantighem) April 28, 2020

How has this health crisis changed your life?

I keep coming to the office every day. It lengthened my work days a little. I no longer have the notion of the weekend. Like many, there is a loss of the usual benchmarks. Especially since Sunday afternoon, I can't leave my house…

Precisely, what will you do once the containment is lifted?

One of the great pleasures of Paris is its café terraces. I live in the 13th arrondissement. It's nice. I completely identify with these Parisians who stop for coffee or beer on the terrace while shopping. To be there. To look at life. To exchange with his neighbor. It is one of the elements of the sweetness of this city. I missed it.

Our file on the coronavirus

And then I'll go find my family members that I can't see. My children, in particular, who are far apart due to confinement.


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