Press review

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Germany's Evotec is 'secret' stock market star

BERLIN, Nov 3 (APM) - German biotech Evotec, whose stock price has risen more than fivefold since the beginning of 2016 and is now forecasting another 40% jump in sales for the full year 2017, is a "secret stock market star" Handelsblatt reports on Friday (p55).
The company employs a two-pronged strategy in its aim to become "the global market leader in high-quality solutions for active ingredient research". It operates as a service provider supporting pharma and biotech companies but is also developing its own drugs in diabetes, neurology, inflammation and cancer.
The increase in Evotec's share price has been driven by a growing number of partnerships with major pharmas including Bayer, Boehringer, Roche, Novartis and Sanofi as well as numerous academic research institutes, the paper says.
Research and development progress is also good at the company, particularly with its work in partnership with Celgene on neurodegenerative disorder drugs (APMHE 50939), it says.

CureVac gets new manufacturing facility

German biotech CureVac has broken ground on a new industrial-scale, good manufacturing practice (GMP)-compliant production facility at its headquarters in Tübingen with much fanfare, Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on Thursday (p18).
The event was well attended, the paper said, with CureVac's main investor Dietmar Hopp, co-founder of SAP software, and Baden-Württemberg economic affairs minister Nicole HoffmeisterKraut and the mayor of Tübingen, Boris Palmer, all attending.
The facility is scheduled to go into operation in 2019. Curevac is one of the few German start-ups with a valuation of more than a billion dollars. It recently signed a partnership with Lilly to develop mRNA cancer vaccines potentially worth $1.7 billion (APMHE 55213), the paper said.

Monsanto takeover makes sense

U.S. investment bank JP Morgan has maintained its positive "overweight" stock rating for Bayer, with a target price of 125 euros per share, FAZ reported on Wednesday (p25).
According to bank analysts, Baye's business prospects are among the best in the agrochemicals and pharmaceuticals sectors. In particular, the planned acquisition of Monsanto has great potential, it said.

Novartis expands with AAA acquisition

Novartis' $3.9 billion bid for French radiopharmaceuticals specialist Advanced Accelerator Applications (AAA) (APMHE 55365) demonstrates its willingness to expand its pharma business through targeted, complementary acquisitions, Handelsblatt wrote on Wednesday (p22, 28).
Although the biotech has just $120 million in sales, the bid is a reasonably controlled bet for Novartis because the biotech has a number of products nearing market approval and it is reasonably certain that it can produce marketable medicines.
The need for innovation remains high, both at Novartis and at many other pharmaceutical giants, which are currently suffering from weak growth, the paper said, and the acquisition is unlikely to be the last deal of its kind.

Sanofi's Lantus has seen its best days in the U.S.

Sanofi's Frankfurt-manufactured diabetes drug Lantus (insulin glargine) is past its peak in terms of U.S. sales, FAZ reports on Friday (p24).
Sanofi lowered its sales expectations for the year after Lantus sales dropped 16% in the third quarter (APMHE 55421), the paper said.
The French pharma expects currency-adjusted sales at its diabetes franchise to shrink by 6-8% a year between 2015 and 2018, the paper said.

Fresenius on way to record sales

German healthcare group Fresenius increased its sales by 12% or 8.3 billion euros in the third quarter and is well on its way to closing the year with a new record high, FAZ reports on Friday (p26)
However, the group confirmed its annual guidance (APMHE 55437), which disappointed some analysts who expected it to be raised, the paper said.
Rachel Empey, a British national and former chief financial and strategy officer of Telefonica Deutschland, is now fully on board as chief financial officer of the company (APMHE 54113).
Fresenius' $2 billion acquisition of Boston, Massachusetts-based NxStage Medical was approved by shareholders, with 72% of outstanding shares voting in favour of the transaction, the paper noted. The approval fulfils an important condition for the full acquisition, but the transaction remains subject to additional customary closing conditions.

Health minister's 'farewell gift'

German health minister Hermann Groehe (CDU) is reducing insurees' additional contribution rate for health insurance, FAZ reported on Monday (p17).
The state healthcare contribution will remain at 14.6% of net income but the average extra rate insured persons pay their individual insurance provider will be reduced by 0.1 point to 1%, the paper said. This sounds better than it is, the paper said, and payers have accused Grohe of using the move for political advantage.
The extra contribution rate has remained consistent throughout Grohe's term in office despite an increase in health insurance fund revenues. Grohe may be using the decision to raise his profile as ministry members jockey for new positions in the incoming ruling coalition, the paper said.

Germans addicted to nasal spray

Tens of thousands of Germans are addicted to nasal decongestants, leading to serious damage of their mucous membranes, FAZ reported on Sunday (p19).
According to the German Pharmacists' Association, sales rose by 10% between 2014 and 2016. Many users are unaware that the drugs are habit-forming due to their mode of action, the paper said.
Health economist Gerd Glaeske says some pharmacists do not sufficiently point out the addictive potential and because most sprays are over-the-counter, many people think they cannot have serious side effects.
Glaeske is calling for an advertising ban of the sprays.
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