PARIS, Nov 10 (APM) - Thursday’s Le Parisien (p10) announced that men taking Merck Sharp 1 Dohme’s anti-baldness treatment Propecia (finasteride) are considering filing complaints against the manufacturer, accusing the drug of provoking serious side effects such as depression and impotence.
In a new threat of scandal related to pharmaceuticals, the newspaper reported that French drug watchdog ANSM has in the meantime issued a warning on the suspected side effects of the product to prescribers and pharmacists.
Caroline Semaille, director at ANSM, told the newspaper the side effects are not scientifically proven, but precautions should be taken with the product.
For now, the agency only recommends men taking the product to stop treatment if they have psychological symptoms, as well as to consult a physician.
The newspaper said Merck did not wish to comment on this matter, also noting that a class action was launched against the company in the U.S. in 2012 over the safety of finasteride.
According to Semaille, ANSM launched the information campaign in order to raise awareness about this issue in French men, letting them decide if they should continue to use the product or not.
Efficacy of flu vaccine questioned
Tuesday’s Le Figaro (p9) and Le Parisien (p10) reported on concern over the efficacy of this winter’s flu vaccine.
Le Figaro, in an article entitled “The very variable efficacy of flu vaccines”, said that American experts have found one of the causes of this lack of consistency lies in the manufacturing process used by pharma companies.
A study published in PNAS said the use of eggs was at the root of this issue, with the vaccine strain not matching the circulating one.
The newspaper said France recorded an increase in deaths of more than 20,000 in the 2016-17 winter epidemic for this reason, since the H3N2 strain that was prominent was not included in the vaccine.
According to the authors of the study, part of the solution would be to switch the flu vaccine manufacturing process to cell-based processes.
The problem with this is that the yield is only 20% that of the egg-based technology, with a higher manufacturing cost.
Cerenis Therapeutics buys American biotech Lypro
Tuesday’s Les Echos (p28) wrote that Cerenis Therapeutics is “rebounding” with its acquisition of U.S. company Lypro BioSciences.
Les Echos noted that Cerenis had lost 70% of its share value in March this year, following the failure of its main cardiovascular drug CER-001 in Phase II.
With the acquisition of Lypro BioSciences, Cerenis gains a presence in the field of immuno-oncology, with access to Lypro’s targeted drug delivery technology NanoDisk.
Cerenis expects to launch a Phase I/II study on a candidate cancer treatment using NanoDisk in 2019.
Antibiotics affect cancer immunotherapies
Monday’s Le Parisien (p7) and Wednesday’s Le Monde (Science & Medicine supplement, p2) reported on the results of a French study showing that antibiotics reduce the efficacy of immunotherapies in cancer treatment.
The study was published in Science journal and carried out by researchers at the Gustave Roussy cancer institute on 249 patients receiving treatment with an anti-PD1 immunotherapy.
MSF inks licensing deal for 100-euro hepatitis C treatment
Monday’s Le Monde (brief p6) wrote that Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) has reached a deal with Gilead and Bristol-Myers Squibb giving developing countries access to generic versions of hepatitis C treatments sofosbuvir and daclastavir.
This deal will allow patients to access new-generation therapeutics for $120 dollars (around 100 euros) for a 12-week course of treatment, instead of the $147,000 price tag in the U.S.
Erytech Pharma wants to raise $125 million in IPO
Thursday’s Les Echos (p27) reported that French biotech Erytech Pharma is aiming to raise $125 million in an IPO on the U.S. Nasdaq index.
The company will see its capital diluted by 31% in the operation.
It intends to use the funds to finance the Phase III study of Eryaspase in second line treatment of metastatic pancreatic cancer, as well as another Phase III in first-line treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
New head at Ipsen France
Friday’s Les Echos (brief p39) and Le Figaro (brief p24) reported on the appointment of Alexis Vandier as head of Ipsen France, after he four years spent reorganising the over-the-counter business of the French pharma company.
Launch of medicines recycling campaign
Thursday’s Le Parisien (website) announced that French association Association Santé Environnement has launched an information campaign to boost medicines recycling.
The operation consists of the distribution to 1,500 physicians and pharmacists of inking stamps that say “Bring back your unused medicines”.
According to the association, around 7,100 tonnes of medicines are kept unused in French homes.
Horama raises 19 million euros
French biotech Horama has raised 19 million euros in a financing round from private investors, announced Les Echos on Tuesday (p28).
The company specialises in retinal genetic diseases.
The funds will mainly be used to finance a Phase I/II study in retinitis pigmentosa.