Press review

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French consumers association publishes 'black list' of OTC drugs to be avoided

Country : France, U.S.

Keywords :
PARIS, Nov 17 (APM) - Tuesday’s Le Figaro online reported that French consumers association 60 millions de consommateurs has published a 'black list' of over-the-counter products that should be avoided because of their safety profile.
According to the association, half of the available non-prescription medicines available should not be used by patients.
The published list contains 62 OTC products which have the highest sales, with only 21% of them that have a positive benefit/risk ratio, and a third which can be used, but only because of "the absence of any alternative".
60 millions de consommateurs cites the example of pseudoephedrine-based drugs, which it judged should be pulled from the market because of potential severe cardiovascular side effects.
“It’s like a bazooka given to patients only to have their nose unblocked,” it said.

Merck KGaA ordered to supply older formulation of Levothyrox

Merck KGaA has been ordered by a French court to immediately supply the previous formulation of its thyroid disorders treatment Levothyrox to 25 patients, reported on Wednesday Le Figaro (website) and Les Echos (p20).
The company has been caught in a storm since it changed the formulation of its product; the newer version has triggered a wave of protests and lawsuits because of side effects caused.
Le Figaro reported that a Toulouse court has ordered the company to supply "without delay" the former and discontinued version of Levothyrox to 25 patients (over 69 plaintiffs), with a 10,000 euros per day and per patient penalty if it does not comply.
Merck intends to appeal the decision, but will import around 200,000 boxes of the former formulation by the end of the year.
Its France general manager, Thierry Hulot, contested the decision, asking why there was so such a rush in taking such a decision for 25 patients, underlining 40,000 doses of the former formulation of the medicine were still available in France, enough to treat 20,000 patients.
He also questioned why the court was taking a decision that should, according to him, be a responsibility of French drug watchdog ANSM.
The newspaper also noted this decision could encourage similar complaints to be filed.
Les Echos reminded the change of formulation had been requested by ANSM because of concerns over the stability of the product. Le Monde also covered the news briefly in its Thursday edition (brief p12).
On Monday, Les Echos (brief p18), Le Figaro (brief p10), Le Parisien (brief p12), La Croix, brief p10) noted a complaint has been filed against Merck for "non-assistance to an endangered person" by a patient using Levothyrox.

Trump names former pharma executive to lead HHS

On Tuesday, Le Monde online reported on Donald Trump's appointment of former Lilly U.S. general manager Alex Azar to lead the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS).
The article pointed out this nomination is "totally unusual", as this responsibility has never been given to a industrial before but rather to politicians or academics.
The newspaper added Azar’s appointment will have to be approved by Congress, stressing the executive will have to explain how he will be able to avoid conflicts of interests with the pharmaceutical industry.
Alex Azar stepped down from its position at Lilly in January 2017.

Diabetes, the 'profitable business for pharma'

Wednesday’s Le Monde (p2) published an investigation into the diabetes market, noting it is a major healthcare and economic problem for the U.S., but also a highly profitable one for pharma.
It said diabetes was worth $44 billion in sales in 2016, adding it was the most important therapeutic area after cancer for pharma, with Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, MSD and Lilly as leaders.
The newspaper also noted food habits were the main cause for the disease, and described how the sector is evolving, and how payers and companies are negotiating.

Sanofi’s Dengue vaccine fails to convince

Wednesday’s Le Figaro (p25) reported Sanofi’s Dengue fever vaccine is failing to convince the market, with sales of less than 22 million euros in the first nine months of 2017, compared to 55 millions on the same period the previous year.
The newspaper noted the company has invested more than 1.5 billion euros in the development of the product, and 350 million euros in the manufacturing capacities.
Workers unions sources have told Le Figaro the medicines stocks are plenty, with around 400 million of doses whose limit date of consumption is nearing.
The newspaper also said the company might have been to be "greedy" with the price of the vaccine, of 7.5 euros per dose and a treatment of three injections.
Sanofi replied that this commercial counter-performance was an illustration of the challenges in convincing countries to launch vast immunisation campaigns against the disease.

Drug compliance very limited, with huge financial consequences

Wednesday’s Les Echos (p16) noted compliance to treatments was limited to 50% in France according to new figures with a cost to the system of around 9 billion euros.
The newspaper noted the situation is even more a problem for patients suffering from chronic diseases, citing information taken from a documentary financed by Novartis.

U.S. approves first connected medicine

Wednesday’s Les Echos (p16) reported the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first digitally connected medicine.
The product, Abilify MyCite, is a treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar patients that can send a message to the prescriber when it is taken by the patient, through a bluetooth connection.
The device has been developed by Ostuka, in collaboration with Proteus Digital Health and is expected to be launched in 2018.
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