France is in "tough" talks with drug companies to cancel orders for millions of swine flu vaccines and insists on scratching the deals instead of renegotiating them, French health minister said on Friday.
France earlier this month moved to cancel purchases of 50 million swine flu vaccines after ordering far more than needed, but was confident at the time that it would not have to compensate the big companies that provide them.
But the negotiations with the British drug firm GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi of France and Novartis of Switzerland are "extraordinarily tough," the minister, Roselyne Bachelot, told Europe 1 radio station on Friday.
"There is no question of transforming the cancellation of the orders into future orders," she added, despite reports that the government might sweeten the cancellation deal by committing to purchases for future epidemics.
France spent 869 million euros (1.25 billion dollars) on 94 million vaccines for the A(H1N1) virus, but like some other European countries it has witnessed less demand than expected.
It had also planned for two doses of the vaccine per person, but medical authorities have since said a single dose was sufficient.