Press review

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Ireland prioritises bid to host EBA rather than EMA

LONDON, Oct 27 (APM) - The government in Ireland has downgraded the campaign to bring the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to Dublin so it can increase its chances of landing the smaller European Banking Authority (EBA) instead.
Government sources told the Sunday Times it has been decided to prioritise the EBA bid — which faces opposition from Frankfurt, Paris and Luxembourg — as it has a better chance of success.

NICE approves treatment for babies allergic to life

The Times on Monday reported that a gene therapy that cures “bubble baby syndrome” for a one-off price of 531,000 pounds has been approved for routine National Health Service (NHS) use (APMHE 55260).
Children with the rare immune disorder have to be shut away as common infections could kill them, but the new treatment - GlaxoSmithKline's Strimvelis - could let them lead a normal life.
Only a handful of such gene therapies are licensed in the world and the NHS decision to make Strimvelis available has been welcomed as a key moment in efforts to correct flawed genetic code.
One hospital offers the treatment and the NHS will also pay for British patients to fly out to Milan receive it. So far Strimvelis has a 100% success rate.

Campaign urges people not to ask doctor for antibiotics

UK citizens are being urged not to ask their doctor for antibiotics as part of a new campaign aimed at tackling growing resistance to the drugs, the Guardian said on Monday.
An estimated 5,000 people die every year in England because antibiotics no longer work for some infections, according to Public Health England (PHE), which has launched the Keep Antibiotics Working campaign.

Celgene shares sink on poor sales

Celgene missed Wall Street expectations for third-quarter sales and lowered its long-term targets, sending its already battered shares down more than 10% in premarket trading, the FT said on Thursday.
Large price hikes for its top-selling multiple myeloma drug Revlimid (lenalidomide) — which has been increased almost 20% this year, according to analysts — were not enough to offset poor sales of Otezla (apremilast), an anti-inflammatory drug for psoriasis and a type of arthritis, which faces stiff competition from AbbVie’s Humira (adalimumab) (APMHE 55333).

Novartis delays spin off of eyecare business Alcon until 2019

The FT on Tuesday said Novartis hopes to spin off and list its underperforming Alcon eyecare business, which could be worth more than $25bn, but has delayed any move until 2019. (APMHE 55284)
A strategic review had concluded a standalone company formed “via a capital markets exit” could create additional shareholder value, the Swiss company said on Tuesday. But it would first press ahead with a turnaround of the business and any potential action was “not likely before the first half of 2019”.
Novartis acquired Alcon from Nestlé for $50bn in a deal completed in 2010.

Lilly looking to sell animal health division

Eli Lilly is looking at spinning off or selling its animal health division Elanco, the FT said on Tuesday.
The move comes less than three years after Lilly bought Novartis’s animal health unit for $5.4bn and 10 months after it acquired an animal vaccines division from Boehringer Ingelheim.
“Now is the time to ask the question of should we look at an [initial public offering], sale, or merger, and we wanted to get some experts — lawyers and bankers — to explore that,” said Dave Ricks, Eli Lilly’s chief executive, in an interview with the FT on Tuesday.

New drugs boost sales at GSK

New treatments for HIV and respiratory problems helped boost sales at GlaxoSmithKline in the third quarter, the FT said on Wednesday.
GSK revenues increased 11% year on year to 7.8 billion pounds in the three months to September 30, in line with analyst forecasts. Growth was boosted by the weak pound, and sales rose 3% at constant exchange rates - the same growth rate as the second quarter (APMHE 55310).

GSK interested in Pfizer’s $15 billion consumer health arm

GlaxoSmithKline has declared its interest in Pfizer’s $15 billion consumer healthcare business in what could be its first big acquisition under new CEO Emma Walmsley, The Times said on Thursday.
Pfizer plans to launch an auction process next month for its consumer healthcare business, which includes Chapstick lip balm, Advil ibuprofen and Centrum multivitamins, with a $15 billion-plus price tag. Reckitt Benckiser, the UK consumer goods conglomerate, is also thought to be interested (APMHE 55316).
Wednesday’s FT also covered the story, adding that GSK is also interested in the consumer business of Germany’s Merck KGaA.

Slight decline for Bayer in third quarter

Thursday’s FT said Bayer reported a slight decline in sales for the third quarter, after a poor performance at its consumer healthcare division cancelled out gains in other operations.
Group sales in the three months to September stood at 8.03 billion euros, down from 8.26 billion euros in the same period last year. Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose 4% to 2.2 billion euros. (APMHE 55325)

Novo CEO calls for action to stem rise in diabetes

The CEO of Novo Nordisk has called for action to cut the global rise in diabetes, arguing that health systems will otherwise be overwhelmed and unable to afford innovative drugs, the FT reported on Thursday.
Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen told the paper that one in 11 people currently had diabetes and if the trend continued one in nine, or 725 million worldwide, will have contracted the condition by 2045.
Jorgensen was speaking at a conference where a report was issued that said annual diabetes-related health expenditure would spiral to more than $1 trillion in 2045, up from $775 billion today, an increase of almost 40%, at a conservative estimate.

Novo’s semaglutide helps obese people lose weight in trial

Novo Nordisk’s semaglutide helped obese people to lose weight twice as fast as rival medications in an early trial, The Times said on Tuesday.
Patients lost an average of 5kg (11 lbs) and cut their food intake by nearly a quarter over three months of weekly injections, according to scientists at the University of Leeds.

Aimmune shares jump as rival peanut allergy product flunks trial

Shares in Aimmune Therapeutics jumped almost 30% on Monday morning after a competing product to treat peanut allergy flunked a clinical trial, the FT reported that day.
Paris-based DBV said its patch, which delivers tiny amounts of peanut protein via the skin, had failed the trial because of a larger-than-expected placebo effect.
Investors sold off shares in DBV, which fell by 47%, even though the company said it would still try to convince the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve its patch despite the results. (APMHE 55286)

AbbVie signs deal to develop immunotherapies for Alzheimer’s disease

AbbVie has signed a deal with biotech Alector to develop medicines that encourage the immune system to fight Alzheimer’s, the FT said on Tuesday (APMHE 55297).
AbbVie is paying an upfront fee of $205 million to Alector in exchange for an option to develop and commercialise two of its experimental medicines. AbbVie could also make a $20 million equity investment in the privately held biotech group at a later date.

Scottish scientists to test vaccine that could help prevent Alzheimer’s

Researchers at the universities of Dundee and Oxford are to begin human testing of a vaccine that could help prevent Alzheimer’s and treat conditions such as psoriasis, The Times said on Tuesday.
Scientists have combined the tetanus vaccine with a viral particle that normally infects cucumbers to create a compound that stimulates the body’s immune system.
Tests have shown the resultant vaccine could help treat diseases like psoriasis and some allergies, and it also raises levels of antibodies that are believed to be beneficial in preventing dementia.

Insys founder accused of bribing doctors to prescribed opioid painkiller

The founder of Insys, which makes a controversial opioid-based drug, has been indicted on racketeering and fraud charges, sending shares in the group 4% lower, the FT said on Thursday
John Kapoor, who stepped down as Insys chief executive in January, is accused of participating in a scheme to bribe doctors to prescribe the fentanyl-based drug and to defraud insurers.
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