Press review

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AstraZeneca CEO Soriot confident in risks the company is taking

Country : China, France, Ireland, U.S., UK

Keywords :
LONDON, Oct 13 (APM) - Monday’s Financial Times carried an interview with AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot, who said he is confident the company’s risks will pay off.
The paper said that questions remain about whether the company has turned a corner or whether it is seeking to generate short-term returns to cover its dividend at the expense of longer-term revenue streams.
Soriot told the FT he strongly rebuts the suggestion that the company is “mortgaging the future to pay [for] the present. It’s actually not the case at all”.
When asked about recent results of the Mystic trial, which showed a combination involving Imfinzi (durvalumab) was no better than chemotherapy in treating patients with late-stage lung cancer, Soriot said there has been “no shift in strategy. But like everything... you have a plan to go to war and then you get into the battlefield and you have to adjust... to business circumstances”.
He also mentioned the U.S. marketplace where AZN, like other major pharma companies, has seen “tremendous price pressures in the last 12 [to] 18 months. It was not in our original battle plan. It was in nobody’s battle plan”.

Former congressman criticises Allergan’s patent deal with Mohawk tribe

Henry Waxman, a former Democrat congressman who helped set up the system for generic medicines in the U.S., has hit out at Allergan, accusing the drugmaker of blocking competition by transferring its patents to a Native American tribe.
The FT at the weekend carried comments from Waxman, who described Allergan’s manoeuvring as “troubling” and said the drugmaker had transferred the “patent to a sovereign nation with the intention of extending the drug’s monopoly”.
His comments come after Allergan transferred patents protecting eyecare drug Restasis to a tribe in an unusual attempt to see off a challenge from generic rivals.

More investment needed in antibiotics

Sunday’s Observer featured an opinion piece from Ed Whiting, director of policy and chief of staff at the Wellcome Trust, who wrote that if future generations are to benefit from antibiotics, there needs to be more investment.
He said the Wellcome Trust and the UN Foundation, together with the UK, Thai and Ghanaian governments, are hosting a global call to action in Berlin this week on the issue.
“To stop superbugs undermining modern medicine, to prevent lives being lost through lack of access to effective medicines, we must work together. We cannot afford to delay,” he said.

Dublin likely to miss out on hosting EMA

Ireland’s hopes of attracting the European Medicines Agency after it leaves London due to Brexit took a hit as Dublin was said to have little chance of winning either, The Times said on Wednesday
Dublin was one of seven cities to score full points in the first round to host the EMA, after the European Commission found that the building earmarked was appropriate. Ireland has promised 78 million euros towards the agency’s rent and maintenance in Dublin, and 10 million euros towards staff relocation.
Despite its success in the first round, however, Dublin is unlikely to win the EMA, according to Bloomberg. Citing unnamed sources, the agency said Ireland’s lack of “natural geographical allies” was likely to hamper its chances of gaining enough support to secure investment from the EMA or EBA.

More cancer patients in Ireland to access Opdivo

The Sunday Times said that as many as 160 cancer patients could get immediate access to Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo (nivolumab) after the Health Service Executive came to an agreement with the company.
The decision means that eligible patients with advanced melanoma, advanced kidney cancer and an aggressive blood cancer known as classical Hodgkin lymphoma can benefit from the new drug.
BMS made the drug available free of charge to about 200 cancer patients last year under a compassionate access scheme. They continued to receive it despite the programme ending in June 2016.
BMS said that the 160 patients who would now have access to the drug would be in addition to those already receiving it under the compassionate access scheme.

China to allow use of data from overseas clinical trials in drug approval process

China will allow the use of data from overseas clinical trials for approvals of new drugs, the FT said on Monday. (APMHE 55066)
The paper said the move is likely to enable multinationals to bring products to the world’s second-largest pharmaceuticals market more quickly.

FDA advisers to discuss Spark Therapeutics’ gene therapy Luxturna for vision loss

The Daily Mail on Monday said that U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisers will consider whether to recommend approval of Spark Therapeutics’s gene therapy Luxturna to treat patients with vision loss due to confirmed biallelic RPE65-mediated inherited retinal disease (IRD).
The paper mentioned results of a study that showed 18 of 20 treated study participants improved on the mobility maze a year later, and 13 passed the test at the lowest light level compared to none in a comparison group of nine patients.
About half of those treated were able to read three or more additional lines on an eye chart, but the variability between the groups was too big to be sure, statistically, that they were different on this measure.

Cigna will no longer cover OxyContin painkiller in U.S.

Cigna, one of the largest health insurers in the U.S., will no longer be covering the cost of addictive opioid painkiller OxyContin, said the Daily Mail on Monday.
As of January 2018, the firm will instead be covering Collegium’s Xtampza ER, an opioid designed to be difficult to abuse.
This is the most drastic move by any insurer to curb the U.S.’s addiction epidemic, which has led to tens of thousands of overdose deaths.

GSK ranked bottom for good governance among UK companies

The Independent on Tuesday carried a report which said GlaxoSmithKline has been ranked bottom in a list of the UK's top companies for good governance (APMHE 55085).
GSK, one of the world's biggest pharma and over-the-counter companies, came in at number 103 in the Institute of Directors' 2017 good governance report.
Now in its third year, the 2017 Good Governance Report was compiled for the IoD by Cass Business School, and examines 47 factors relating to how companies are run including board diversity, directors’ pay, how long the business has been with an auditor and whether it has a whistleblowing policy. The list includes 103 of the largest companies.

Pfizer looking to sell consumer business

Pfizer has said it is looking to sell or spin off its consumer healthcare business in a move that could fetch up to $14 billion of cash, said the FT on Tuesday.
The company on Tuesday said it was considering a range of options for the business, which makes Centrum vitamins and ChapStick lip balm, including “a full or partial separation... through a spin-off, sale, or other transaction”. It added that it might ultimately decide to keep the division.

Sanofi boosts flu vaccine production

Sanofi said it is investing 170 million euros to expand an influenza vaccine production facility in France, the FT reported on Thursday. (APMHE 55114)
Sanofi Pasteur, the group’s vaccines business division, is the sole influenza vaccine producer in France. Its new manufacturing site in the Normandy region will allow it to expand supply of its influenza vaccine to up to 70 countries.
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