Agnes Buzyn has just been appointed Minister of Health and Solidarities, as part of Prime Minister Edouard Philippe’s government and under the presidency of Emmanual Macron. Agnès Buzyn is a doctor and a professor of Medicine in the fields of hematology, tumor and transplantation immunology. She has a fine knowledge of the health sector. She has been sensitized very young to these subjects with an orthopedic surgeon father. Her mother was a psychologist and psychoanalyst. We can also add to this family background her second husband. Yves Lévy, is the current director of the INSERM, the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research.
She has been in charge of the Intensive Care for adult hematology of the Université Paris Descartes – Necker Hospital till 2011. Then, she taught hematology and tumor immunology in various university modules and finally became Hematology Professor at the Pierre-et-Marie-Curie University.
Before her appointment as Health Minister, Agnès Buzyn was head of the French National Authority for Health. She also led the National Cancer Institute. And she was involved in several other administrations and associations. She was a member of the Atomic Energy Committee for example.
What will be her stance regarding vaping?
Time will tell, but the first signs are not very encouraging.
The French National Authority for Health that she led, made a public statement recently according to which it is not possible today to “recommend electronic cigarettes to stop smoking”. They point to the fact there are “insufficient data confirming their effectiveness and long term safety”. But they acknowledge that the substances contained in the e-cigarette are “less harmful than those contained in tobacco products”.
Agnès Buzyn seems even more opposed to classical cigarettes and tobacco than to e-cigs. In an opinion piece published in the French journal Le Monde in 2013, she highlighted that “smoking is the most important risk factor of premature deaths linked to human behavior, since one smoker out of two will die from tobacco and that each year, tobacco kills more than 70 000 of our fellow citizens”. According to her, “tobacco is a drug and tobacco use should be considered accordingly”.
She is allegedly closer to the pharmaceutical industry. Here is one of her statements as published by French news site Mediapart. “The pharmaceutical industry plays its role and I have never ran with the pack in shaming them. What you must understand is that if you want independent experts with no ties with the drugs industry, you might have some issues with their skills and knowledge”.