Press review

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Competition hots up in MS market

Country : France

Keywords :
PARIS, Oct 27 (APM) - Friday’s Les Echos (p16) reports that competition is getting tougher among multiple sclerosis treatments, notably because of increased pressure on prices.
The newspaper says that treatment had previously focused on products limiting the evolution of the disease, but Roche’s Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) will change the game, with an approach that will for the first time be directed to patients with degenerative disease, as well as the most aggressive forms.
Analysts predict the drug will generate annual sales of around 4 billion dollars in 2023, and could grab a market share of around 30% to 40%.
The article also pointed out that the market current leaders, Biogen with Tysabri (natalizumab) and Novartis with Gilenya (fingolimod), will have to face a new competitor which is 20% cheaper than their products.
They also face growing pressure from payers - notably in the U.S. - which are more and more reluctant to pay for innovations they judge too expensive, like Biogen’s Zinbryta (daclizumab), which costs 87,000 euros a year, and whose hepatic side effects have seriously damaged its commercial potential.
Les Echos finally noted that the launch of a second generic of Teva’s Copaxone, developed by Mylan, will add to the pressure on prices.

Cancer institute chairman asks for more pricing transparency

Pharmas should be more transparent over cancer drug pricing, Thierry Philip, chairman of Institut Curie, one of France’s major oncology centres, said in an interview with Libération published on Wednesday (website).
He said France is still providing access to innovation in cancer treatments, but this may not be the case in the near future, as the cost of cancer drugs looks set to explode. (APMHE 55347)
Acknowledging the problem is not easy, he told the newspaper the government should control the way oncologists prescribe treatment after first line.
“We need ways to see if the treatments are actually useful for a given patient, through a simple procedure like a formulary, in order to avoid superfluous expense,” Philip told Libération.
He also proposed measures requiring pharmas to be more transparent about the actual R&D cost of a given molecule.
He additionally suggested that the cost of developing a compound could be spread over a longer period, with an extension of patent duration from 10 years currently to 20 or even 30 years.
“This way, the authorities can still afford to pay for innovations, but with the company compensated over a longer period,” he declared.
A more radical approach would be to force firms to lower their prices voluntarily over the commercial lifetime of the product, or otherwise face the loss of their intellectual property through compulsory licences granted to generic companies.

Janssen puts France, Germany and UK in competition for new startup incubator

Monday’s Le Figaro (p28) reported that Janssen (Johnson & Johnson group) is hesitating between France, Germany and the UK to host its new "JLab".
The company has already created seven JLabs, innovation centres that host young companies specialised in healthcare.
For its eighth such centre, Johnson & Johnson’s prescription pharmaceuticals branch is hesitating between the three European countries, the newspaper said.
But France is not in the best position to gain this investment opportunity, because of its drugs pricing policy, wrote Le Figaro.
Emmanuelle Quilès, chairman of the French subsidiary, told the newspaper she is advocating for the project to be hosted in France, but she has to face her management’s unfavourable perception of how the French government is treating the pharmaceutical industry.
Speaking at a press conference, Quilès criticised France’s “lack of vision” for the sector, adding she was “shocked” by the gap between the government’s declarations of support to the industry and the reality of measures taken in the healthcare budget bill for 2018.
“You cannot say at the same time ‘we want you to invest’ and ‘we don’t want to see you’,” Quilès said.

France’s worrying habits regarding prescriptions for pregnant women

Tuesday’s Libération (p15) reported that France is one of the countries with the highest levels of drug prescribing for pregnant women in Europe.
The newspaper said that French drug watchdog ANSM has started a campaign to limit the use of medicines by pregnant women, including the introduction of pictograms to inform of their risks in this population.
According to a study published by France public medical research institute INSERM and released by ANSM, pregnant women receive no less than 10 pharmaceuticals during pregnancy in average, compared to 2 or 3 in the Nordic countries, 2 to 7 in Germany and 8 in the Netherlands.
Moreover, no less than 97% of French pregnant women receive a pharmaceutical prescription, compared to around 50% in Northern European countries.
ANSM chair Dominique Martin also highlighted the fact that exposure levels are negatively correlated with the women’s education levels.
The higher the level of education, the lower the consumption of pharmaceuticals during pregnancy.
Martin added that it was an absolute necessity that physicians and pharmacists be more aware of this overprescription and be more rational in their prescription habits regarding pregnant women.

Levothyrox scandal ‘a good deal for lawyers’

Thursday’s Libération (p17) published an article in which it wrote that the Levothyrox scandal is not only a matter of public health, but has also become a “good business opportunity” for lawyers, as several hundreds of patients are preparing to launch lawsuits to gain compensation for side effects they say are due to the new formulation of the drug.
“The victims market is open,” Libération’s article begins.
The article highlights the number of lawyers attracted by the case, an increasing number of whom are advertising their services, especially since France has recently allowed the launching of class actions for cases related to health products.
The newspaper however pointed out that most of the lawyers who say they can launch class actions are targeting Merck KGaA’s liability, while most experts are pointing in the direction not of the pharma company but of French authorities and prescribers.

First Depakine compensation dossiers under review

Thursday’s Les Echos (brief p14) announced that the French authorities have started reviewing the first compensation requests filed by victims of side effects of antiepileptic drug Depakine (Sanofi).

Sanofi sues Mylan over Lantus biosimilar

Thursday’s Le Figaro (brief p24) reported briefly on complaints filed by Sanofi against Mylan, accusing the latter of violating 18 patents protecting its flagship diabetes treatment Lantus (insulin glargine) with its biosimilar (APMHE 55299).
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