Press review

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GSK hails progress on its most advanced cancer drug

LONDON, Dec 15 (APM) - The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday reported that GlaxoSmithKline has hailed progress on its most advanced cancer drug, as the pharma giant battles to claw back lost ground in one of the world's most competitive medicines markets.
An early clinical trial of experimental antibody drug GSK2857916 in 35 patients with the blood cancer multiple myeloma found a 60% response rate.
All the patients who signed up for the study had previously been "heavily" treated with existing medicines and had not responded, GSK said.
But after taking a course of GSK2857916, patients benefited from an average of almost eight months without the cancer progressing. The positive Phase I/II trial data paves the way for a wider Phase III trial before potential approval for patients.

Gilead's Yescarta impresses in non-Hodgkin lymphoma

The Financial Times on Sunday covered positive trial results for Gilead Sciences’ Car-T therapy Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel) in patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The drug showed that after a median of 15.4 months, 59% of patients with the condition were still alive, 42% were in remission and 40% showed no trace of cancer. The median survival period for people with the condition on standard therapy is six months,
The FT said the results will help dispel doubts over the effectiveness of CAR-t treatment, which involves extracting a patient’s blood cells and re-engineering them before infusing them back into the body.

UK woman first in world to be given breast cancer immunotherapy combination

The Daily Mail on Monday carried a story on an early clinical trial in breast cancer for the combination of immunotherapies Herceptin and R06874281, both from Roche.
The paper said that Anna Jones, who is terminally ill, is the first woman in the world to be given the combination of drugs in the hope that treatment can extend her life. She has previously tried 10 different treatments, including several rounds of chemotherapy.
The RO6874281 drug introduces a potent version of the Interleukin 2 protein into the bloodstream, which stimulates the body’s immune system to kill rogue cells. It is taken at the same time as Herceptin, which binds onto the cancer cells to make tumours visible to the immune system
Around 60 people will eventually take part in the global study, including patients in the UK being treated at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Barts Health NHS Trust and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

Excitement for Ionis's drug for Huntington's disease

The Guardian on Monday reported on results of a trial of Ionis Pharmaceuticals's Ionis-HTTRx that shows the drug has potential to slow the progression of the genetic condition Huntington's diseases.
The paper said this is the first time any drug has been shown to suppress the effects of the Huntington’s mutation, which causes irreversible damage to the brain. Roche has paid a $45 million licence fee to take the drug forward to clinical use (APMHE 55995).

Schizophrenia drug’s approval helps wean Indivior off opioids

The Times on Wednesday said that attempts by Indivior to wean itself from its reliance on opioid addiction treatments were boosted after U.S. regulators accepted its application for a new schizophrenia drug.
The FDA’s acceptance of the drug called RBP-7000 follows late-stage trial results and paves the way for potential marketing authorisation next July.
This would alleviate the company's reliance on its Suboxone treatment for opioid addiction in the U.S., where it accounted for about 80% of Indivior’s annual revenues last year of just over $1 billion.
Indivior, which was spun out of Reckitt Benckiser nearly three years ago, has endured a rollercoaster year. It has faced competition from generic rivals but profited from the deepening opioid addiction crisis in the U.S., which President Trump has called a “nationwide public health emergency”.

Gene therapy could cure haemophilia A

A cure for haemophilia A is a step closer after researchers posted positive results for a gene therapy that allowed patients to come off standard therapy, the Guardian reported on Thursday.
The paper said that 13 patients were injected with a copy of the single gene responsible for causing blood to clot, which they were missing at birth. The treatment given at a low dose in the first two patients did not work. But the 13 subsequently treated at a higher dose have all stopped their regular injections, according to results published in the New England Journal of Medicines.
More than a year on, 11 of the treated patients have levels of the blood clotting protein Factor VIII that are at or near normal.

Sanofi planning nine regulatory submissions in next 18 months

Sanofi has nine regulatory submission planned for the next 18 months that it hopes will offset falling sales of its insulin Lantus, the FT reported on Wednesday (APMHE 56041).
The paper said the French company held an investor day in Paris where it gave details of the planned submissions, which include two cancer drugs, a treatment for type 1 diabetes and an asthma treatment.
The company’s’ CEO Olivier Brandicourt said the company was “confident” that its pipeline would lead to long-term growth.

Avondale increases price of bottle of vitamin B3 tablets by $270

Avondale Pharmaceuticals is charging almost $300 for a bottle of prescription vitamin Niacor (niacin), which can be bought online for less than $5, according to the FT on Sunday.
The paper said Avondale raised the price of a bottle of 100 tablets of the vitamin B3 product from $32.46 to $295. The FT said the price rise came after Avondale bought the medicine from Upsher Smith, a division of Japan’s Sawai Pharmaceutical.

UDG looking to grow, says CEO

The Sunday Times carried an interview with Brendan McAtamney, the chief executive of pharma services group UDG Healthcare.
The paper said the CEO has transformed the former United Drug wholesaler into a provider of communications services, sales reps and packaging to big pharma.
In the financial year to the end of September — McAtamney’s first full year in charge — net revenue rose by 16% to $1.03 billion and operating profit increased by 17% to $129.3 million.
The company has just sold its drug distribution business to McKesson for €407.5 million, and McAtamney is looking to bolster its remaining three divisions.
“We are in talks with three to five companies at any one time. If the past three years are anything to go by, there’s going to be a lot more change,” he told the paper.

Pharma R&D return down to 3.2%

The FT and The Times on Thursday covered research by Deloitte that says the world’s 12 largest drug companies are making a return of just 3.2% on their R&D spending this year, down from 10.1% in 2010. (APMHE 56049)
The report says the average cost of bringing a drug to market has risen to $2 billion, from $1.5 billion in 2016.
Forecast peaks sales per product were up, however, rising from $394 million last year to $465 million this year - although this is still way down on $816 million in 2010.
Deloitte said the main reason for the increases in costs and peak sales was the decline in the number of drugs in the late-stage pipeline, before they are launched on the market.

Teva plans to cut quarter of workforce

Israel-based Teva plans to cut 14,000 jobs despite the country’s national trade unions body calling a general strike, the FT said on Thursday (APMHE 56052).
The paper said the cuts are the equivalent to a quarter of its global workforce. Unions fear that the company’s 7,000 employees in Israel will be adversely impacted.

Half of adults in England are on prescription medicines

Both the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail on Tuesday picked up a survey by the National Health Service (NHS) that says half of all adults in England are taking a prescription medicine.
The figures from NHS Digital show that, of 8,000 patients surveyed, a quarter are on at least three drugs. One in seven of the population are on statins and one in 10 are on antidepressants.
Around 1.1 million prescriptions were handed out last year in England, an increase of almost 50% in the last decade.
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