Press review

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Drug shortages cost NHS 38 million pounds in November

Country : U.S., UK

Keywords :
LONDON, Dec 22 (APM) - Drug shortages cost the National Health Service (NHS) 38 million pounds in November, The Times said on Monday.
The paper said that shortages are due to attempts by the government to force down drug prices that mean pharmacists cannot carry on supplying patients with drugs that lose them money.
The government has moved to setting temporary prices based on manufacturers’ selling prices, rather than those charged by wholesalers. Manufacturers have accused wholesalers of inflating prices, but wholesalers have denied that they are manipulating the market.
A total of 91 emergency price increases have been approved for November, but pharmacists have said that these are not enough to cover the cost of crucial cancer and anti-psychotic medicines.
Shortages of medicines have cost the NHS more than 200 million pounds since April because it has had to approve a series of price rises of up to 4,000%.

Tesaro’s Zejula launched in UK for ovarian cancer

The UK launch of Tesaro’s Zejula (niraparib) was picked up on Monday in both the Daily Mail and the Guardian.
The drug was approved in the EU in November as a monotherapy for the maintenance treatment of adult patients with platinum-sensitive relapsed high-grade serous epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer who are in complete response or partial response to platinum-based chemotherapy (APMHE 56073).
The Guardian said that in women with an inherited BRCA gene mutation, the time to relapse was increased from 5.5 months to 21 months compared with chemotherapy alone. Zejula was also shown to help women without a BRCA mutation to a lesser degree, doubling the length of time before recurrence.

Apotex founder and wife found dead

The death of Apotex founder and chair Barry Sherman was picked up by the Guardian at the weekend.
The paper said Sherman and his wife were found dead in Toronto on Friday.
“The circumstances of their death appear suspicious and we are treating it that way,” said police officer David Hopkinson. Homicide detectives later told reporters gathered outside the home that there were no signs of forced entry (APMHE 56095).

Teva plans to increase drug prices to counter ailing business

Teva plans to increase the prices of some of its drugs in the U.S. in an effort to counter poor recent performance, the Financial Times said at the weekend.
The paper reported comments from chief executive Kare Schultz that he wants to either raise the prices of drugs that are sold at a loss or to stop manufacturing them altogether.
Analyst are not convinced by the plan, however, with the FT reporting comments from David Maris at Wells Fargo who said politicians are unlikely to let a company that is firing thousands of workers to start raising drug prices.
Teva announced last week it is to axe 14,000 jobs to save $3 billion by the end of 2019.

Investors urge Shire not to sell neuroscience business

Investors in Shire are urging the board not to sell its neuroscience division without a good reason, The Sunday Times reported.
The company said in August it is considering spinning off the division, which has a portfolio that includes the ADHD medicines Adderall, Vyvanse and Mydayis, in order to focus on its rare diseases business after the $31 billion of Baxalta.
However, some investors are wary that Shire will use any proceeds from a sale to fund another big takeover deal. And others say the company should sell or list the division only if it can secure the right price.
The paper quoted Joe Walters, senior fund manager at Royal London Asset Management, who said: “Unless they can sell it for a premium, which clearly would have some value, then there’s no value creation.”

Spark’s Luxturna is first gene therapy approved in U.S. for inherited condition

The FT on Tuesday covered the approval in the U.S. of Spark Therapeutics’ Luxturna (voretigene neparvovec-rzyl) for an inherited form of blindness known as biallelic RPE65 mutation-associated retinal dystrophy.
The paper said the medicine is the first ever gene therapy for an inherited genetic condition approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (APMHE 56137).
Spark has not yet announced a price for the therapy, but the FT said analysts have put the potential cost of administering treatment in both eyes at more than $1 million.

New campaign group puts pressure on companies to lower drug prices in UK

The Guardian on Wednesday carried a feature covering activist group Just Treatment, which is looking to put pressure on pharma companies to lower the prices of drugs.
Founded just under a year ago, the group has recruited nine patient leaders who have all struggled to get the treatment on the NHS. A total of 40 core members are helped by more than 20,000 supporters who write to politicians and companies, sign petitions and protest.
The paper spoke to group member Emma Robertson who campaign for Pfizer to lower the price of breast cancer treatment palbociclib in order for it to be available on the NHS. It was recommended by NICE in November.
“Too many activist groups just apply pressure on NICE and the NHS to cough up the money for expensive treatments,” said Robertson.
“As a patient, obviously I want - and need - the NHS to fund palbociclib, but as a citizen I know there isn’t some magic money tree. We live in a society with limited resources, which means not everyone can get everything they need. Patients rightly demand access, but rather than putting more pressure on where resources are allocated, we should be looking at root causes, like why the drugs are so expensive in the first place.”

Roche buys Ignyta for $1.7 billion

The FT on Friday recorded Roche's agreed $1.7 billion buy of rare cancer specialist Ignyta, saying the deal boosts the Swiss pharma's cancer portfolio. (APMHE 56183).
It said Roche’s profits are under pressure as a number of its most popular treatments lose their patent protection.
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