Press review

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French pharma group ‘sounds alarm’ on economic situation of the sector

PARIS, Oct 20 (APM) - Thursday’s Les Echos (p21) published an article in which French pharma industry association G5 “sounds the alarm” over the economic situation of the sector in the country.
G5 brings together the most important pharma companies in France (bioMérieux, Guerbet, Ipsen, LFB, Pierre Fabre, Sanofi, Servier and Théa).
Les Echos published the conclusions of a report commissioned by G5 according to which “all economic indicators are down”.
This time, the French pharma industry is sending out a “red alert”, Les Echos wrote.
If the industry is not given the means to recover, it will decline, it added.
Presented by Ipsen chairman Marc de Garidel, the document highlighted that successive French governments have been putting too much pressure on pharma over the past few years, asking it to bear around 50% of healthcare budget savings. (APMHE 55242)
“The consequence is poor remuneration of innovation and a degradation of access to patients,” De Garidel warned, adding that this also has a significant impact on clinical research and manufacturing.
The association asked the current government to take measures to help the sector, such as taking industrial investments into account in price negotiations, or setting up measures to support exportations.

Ulcer drug Cytotec pulled after widespread misuse by physicians

Friday’s Le Monde (p9), Le Figaro (p14) and Libération (brief p18) report that the French authorities have ordered Pfizer to pull its ulcer drug Cytotec (misoprostol) from the market.
This decision was taken because the drug was most frequently used outside its official indication, to trigger delivery in pregnant women or even for abortions.
This misuse was very frequent and caused numerous very severe side effects for both women and newborns, according to Le Lien, a patients’ association that decided to make this scandal public on Thursday.
An investigation led by a regional pharmacovigilance centre in France in 2012 showed more than 90% of obstetricians were using the medicine off-label.
The newspaper pointed out that Pfizer had never asked for an extension of indication for its product in obstetrics, because it was reluctant to have Cytotec used for abortions.
Physicians are using Cytotec instead of the approved drug Gymiso, mostly because the former is is 40 times cheaper.
The association also disclosed that physicians also used the product vaginally, while the approved route of administration is oral.
The product will be progressively phased out by March 1 2018, in order to give healthcare professionals time to change their practices, mostly in abortions.

New pictograms on medicines packaging for pregnant women

Monday’s Le Parisien (p14) reported that new pictograms will be displayed on medicines packages to warn of their possible risks for pregnant women.
Those pictograms will inform women a medicine can be either “dangerous” or “prohibited” during pregnancy. (APMHE 55173)
According to the health ministry, which launched this measure that becomes effective this week, around 4,778 pharmaceuticals will carry these pictograms, a third of which will use the “prohibited” version.

French drugs watchdog searched in Levothyrox affair

Wednesday’s Les Echos (p18) reported that the offices of French drugs regulator ASNM offices had been searched in the Levothyrox case on Tuesday. (APMHE 55215)
This is the second search in this case, after a first visit of investigators to Merck KGaA’s French headquarters in early October.
The newspaper added that 365 complaints have been officially filed in the case to date, as Le Monde also reported on Thursday (brief p10).

Mediator - victim receives first compensation from French state

Friday’s Les Echos (brief p22) and Le Monde (website) announce that the French state has been ordered to compensate a victim of Servier’s Mediator, having been judged “partially responsible” for the harm patients suffered from after taking the medicine.
The plaintiff will receive around 22,800 euros from the state, around 30% of the total compensation set by the justice system. The remainder will be paid by Servier.
Le Monde added that Servier has already paid around 48.3 million euros to compensate victims of Mediator to date.

Antabio targets nosocomial infections

Monday’s Les Echos (p30) published a portrait of French biotech Antabio, which focuses on the development of treatments for nosocomial infections.
The company has just raised 7.3 million euros from private investors, which it will use to launch Phase I clinical trials on a molecule targeting beta-lactamase enzymes.
The study will be initiated late 2018.
The molecule will be developed in combination with existing antibiotics.

Stéphanie Didier appointed Finance director of Janssen France

Tuesday’s Le Figaro (p24) noted that Stéphanie Didier has become financial director of Janssen France, the French prescription pharmaceuticals subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.
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