bioMérieux: in vitro diagnostics leader joins forces with French Healthcare Association

bioMérieux is a recognised leader in clinical and industrial microbiological diagnostics, with particular expertise in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. By joining French Healthcare Association, bioMérieux reaffirms its commitment to improving diagnostics for all and promoting French know-how.

Isabelle Tongio, Director of Public and Government Affairs, France and Europe, at bioMérieux, met with the association’s team to share her vision and her thoughts on the impact of the fight against antimicrobial resistance in improving public healthcare worldwide.

Interview with Isabelle Tongio, Director of Public and Government Affairs, Europe and France, at bioMérieux

What is the basis of bioMérieux’s differentiation strategy?

Isabelle Tongio : We’re a French family-owned group specializing in in vitro diagnostics, with 60 years’ experience. Public health is of course at the heart of our vision. The Mérieux family is our majority shareholder, which enables us to establish a long-term deployment strategy. This strategy is based on three pillars: innovation, with our objective of spending 12% of our sales on research and development each year; internationalization, with over 90% of our sales generated outside France; and targeted acquisitions and external growth. In addition, we have identified 5 pillars on which to build our Corporate Social Responsibility approach:

  • Health, with innovative solutions to improve the health of all populations,
  • The planet, with our many eco-responsible actions
  • Our collaborators, essential to our development,
  • The notion of extended enterprise, with multiple partnerships and corporate philanthropy initiatives,
  • The healthcare ecosystem, for global progress in in vitro diagnostics.

We know that the fight against antimicrobial resistance has always been bioMérieux’s top priority: what does this commitment mean to you?

Isabelle Tongio : BioMérieux has an ongoing commitment to the fight against antimicrobial resistance, recognized as a major threat to public health. We have begun discussions with all parties involved to underline the urgency of the situation. If we do nothing about antimicrobial resistance, it will certainly become the world’s leading cause of death by 2050! At present, it is already implicated in 1.3 million deaths worldwide every year. This figure rises to 5 million a year when associated diseases are taken into account!
Our mission is therefore part of the “One Health” concept, with the aim of improving the health of all living ecosystems worldwide.

In vitro diagnostics play an essential role in this fight, as the main causes of antimicrobial resistance lie in the misuse and over-consumption of antibiotics. allowing appropriate patient management and epidemiological surveillance. On an individual level, these techniques can determine whether or not an individual is infected with a bacterium, since no antibiotic can be prescribed in the case of a viral infection. Diagnostic tests are therefore essential for precised treatment, in that they enable the antibiotic targeting the specific pathogen that has infected a given patient to be prescribed, at the right dose and for the right duration. All these requirements combine precision medicine with effective antibiotic treatment management, and benefit the global fight against infectious diseases.

Clinicians also need to be reassured in their choice of treatment, particularly in emergency situations. The efficiency of treatment will also be reflected in the course of care: we avoid unnecessary hospitalization for patients and carers, and extended stays in intensive care units… It is now essential to place in vitro diagnostics at the heart of Antimicrobial stewardship.

With regard to our commitment to public health, we are involved in monitoring the circulation of bacteria at local, regional and international levels. Antimicrobial resistance and the need to develop new products represent complex challenges, not least because of the difficulties associated with eligibility for treatment. In vitro diagnostics can make a valuable contribution by helping pharmaceutical companies to better target patient populations, which could in turn reduce the time needed for clinical trials. It is imperative that each player is positioned in its rightful place within initiatives and programs to combat antimicrobial resistance.

The Group generates over 90% of its sales from exports, with a presence on every continent… what are your future goals for international expansion?

iboMérieux is already present in over 160 countries, with a solid presence in strategically important markets, notably the United States. This market offers significant opportunities for delocalized biology, where we conduct “outside central laboratories’ walls” biology activities, bringing microbiological diagnostic closer to the patient.

Naturally, we have a particularly strong presence in Europe – notably Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, since the European market is bioMérieux’s historical area of expansion. But we have also expanded our activities in strategic and complex markets such as Latin America and Asia-Pacific, and intend to support our development in African markets. It should be noted that, because of their size, these regions are highly heterogeneous: our international expansion is therefore guided by respect for local specificities, particular transport and storage conditions, and the need for a robust presence in each market, to ensure in vitro diagnostics maintenance and logistics.

To date, bioMérieux has already opened 45 direct subsidiaries and built up a vast network of distributors. This development is an aim in itself for the group, in the sense that our battle can only be fought on an international level, since bacteria know no borders.

Why did you choose to join French Healthcare Association? What are your aspirations within this network?

Isabelle Tongio : We are firmly convinced that the fight against infectious diseases is vital to global health, and that the fight against antimicrobial resistance plays a central role in it. French Healthcare Association is a public brand’s association. With the right resources and bioMérieux’s expertise, French Healthcare Association could take on more of these issues, and France could become an active spokesperson for the urgent need to combat antimicrobial resistance and infectious diseases.

bioMérieux and French Healthcare Association will be able to leverage their complementary strengths to bring this fight to the highest level. Progress in the fight against antimicrobial resistance must imperatively benefit France and French healthcare players, an objective that bioMérieux and the association can achieve together.