Press review

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GSK warns that Brexit will take money away from cancer research

Country : Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, U.S., UK

Keywords :
LONDON, Jan 12 (APM) - Sunday’s Observer covered a warning from GlaxoSmithKline that the UK will have to divert 70 million pounds from developing new cancer drugs in order to prepare for the impact of leaving the EU.
The paper said that GSK’s president of global affairs Phil Thomson told a House of Commons health select committee in December that his company estimated that 1,700 of its products would be directly affected by a poorly handled Brexit, with new regulation processes, labs and approval systems costing “somewhere between 60 million and 70 million pounds” (APMHE 56153).
He added: “Even if we have a smooth and orderly Brexit process, and we work through with a new [free trade agreement] or a new arrangement, there are going to be costs of that magnitude anyway, but they will probably be more phased.
“We will probably be able to reallocate some of those costs elsewhere. It may not be as significant as the contingency plan, but the reality is that we are already going to have to spend some of that.

Takeover chatter swirls around Vectura

The Telegraph on Friday reports that the City rumour mill has moved into full swing following the Christmas lull, speculating that asthma inhaler maker Vectura "could be in the crosshairs of pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline, looking to capitalise on its recent share price slump".
City chatter mooted that GSK is preparing to deliver a knockout bid in excess of 175p per share, which would value the company at close to 1.2 billion pounds. Vectura has become vulnerable to a swoop after its share price tumbled 14% last year and traders have speculated that GSK could be the first to launch an opportunistic bid.

UK hoping to remain under remit of EMA after Brexit

The UK is looking to remain under EU regulations for medicines after Brexit, the Financial Times said at the weekend.
The paper said it heard from three senior government figures that the UK hopes to be regulated by the European Medicines Agency despite its move from London to Amsterdam as part of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Companies warned of 'no deal Brexit'

The EU is systematically warning UK companies of a regulatory chill after Brexit as it seeks to accelerate the private sector’s preparations for a no-deal UK exit, according to legal notices reviewed by the FT.
Even as negotiators neared a breakthrough in Brexit divorce talks, EU regulators issued a flurry of “be prepared” memos to about 15 industries in November and December, ranging from drugmakers, seafarers and mineral water producers to hauliers and airlines that rely on UK operating licences.
The documents call on companies to be ready for the UK to become a “third country” on March 29 2019, with no automatic right to operate in the single market. They also warn that operating licences will automatically lapse after Brexit and that many groups may have to create EU entities for continuity of business, the FT reported on Tuesday.
The warnings triggered an angry response from David Davis, the Brexit secretary, who accused the EU of measures that could jeopardise existing contracts or force British companies to decamp to the continent if the two sides fail to reach a deal.

Trump to let states tie Medicaid benefits to work

The FT on Friday reports that the Trump administration will allow states to impose work requirements on beneficiaries of a key health programme for low-income people, in a significant change to one of the central features of U.S.'s safety net.
The federal government will now support states that want to make work or other forms of “community engagement” a condition for certain adults’ eligibility for Medicaid, according to a letter from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to state directors.
The move comes as Republicans call for cuts to entitlement programmes that they say have become over-extended and are trapping individuals in poverty. It provoked deep concern from experts who argue that many out-of-work Medicaid recipients face serious barriers to their ability to take up jobs even in an environment of low overall unemployment.

Celgene to buy blood cancer developer Impact in $6.5 billion deal

Celgene is to buy Impact Biomedicines for $1.1 billion upfront and a further $1.25 billion in regulator milestones, the FT said on Monday.
California-based Impact could receive an additional $4.5 billion depending on the success of its investigational drug fedratinib, which is being developed for the rare blood cancers myelofibrosis and polycythemia vera (APMHE 56321).

Cystic fibrosis specialist Vertex defying wider fears in biotech

The FT on Monday carried a feature on cystic fibrosis specialist Vertex that said the company is defying broader investor fears in the sector.
The paper said that shares in the company nearly doubled last year, taking its value to $37 billion.
This followed the publication of positive results from mid-stage trials that showed a combination of three drugs could benefit 90% of patients with cystic fibrosis. The company’s current products can only help around 50% of people with the rare condition.
The FT cited analysts who forecast that the company’s revenues will rise to $4.2 billion by 2020.

Novo in 2.6 billion euros bid for Ablynx

Novo Nordisk has made a 2.6 billion euros bid for Belgium-based biotech Ablynx, the FT said on Monday (APMHE 56319).
Denmark-based diabetes specialist Novo said the potential to combine Ablynx’s main asset caplacizumab, a treatment for rare bleeding condition acquired thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (aTTP), with its own products in haematology as a “compelling opportunity”.

Trend for drug names to sound like espresso coffee products

There is a trend for new pharmaceutical products to sound like espresso coffee machines, according to research covered by The Times on Monday.
The paper said that Pascaline Faure, a medical linguist from the Sorbonne, looked at the names of more than 300 drugs, identifying that new products Ingrezza, Tagrisso, Natesto, Afrezza and Portrazza were similar to names for coffee products.
Writing in the journal ‘Names’, Faure said the random insertion of Xs and Zs, typical of drugs in the past decade, was on the wane while syllables such as ‘Nu’ and ‘Tru’, suggesting novelty and efficacy, were on the rise.
“I think it’s so interesting. Usually patients are not aware of what’s behind a drug’s name,” said Faure. “They put a lot of money on marketing. There’s so much money to make but so much to lose.”

Irish pharmacists want to prescribe drugs for minor ailments

Pharmacists in Ireland want power to prescribe drugs for minor ailments to reduce pressure on GP services, The Times said on Monday.
The Irish Pharmacy Union said that nearly one million prescriptions a year were filled for medical card holders needing over-the-counter treatments.
The union said that if those patients could access the drugs free of charge through their pharmacies it would free up hours of valuable GP time.

Shire unit separation could lead to spin out of neuroscience unit

Shire is restructuring its business to separate its neuroscience and rare diseases units, The Times said on Tuesday (APMHE 56335).
The paper said the decision could lead to the company spinning out its neuroscience business, which incudes several ADHD drugs, as a separate entity. A possible stock market listing of this unit could value it at as much as 6 billion pounds.
Shares in Shire fell to 36.32 pounds on Friday morning, valuing the company at 33 billion pounds. The fall in its share price was largely the result of a warning by the company that its annual revenues in 2020 would reach at most $18 billion and possibly as little as $17 billion, short of its earlier target of $20 billion.
Its shares in March 2017 were trading at 50.67 pounds.

Pfizer stops research into drugs for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

Pfizer is pulling out of research for new drugs for Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, The Times said on Tuesday (APMHE 56320).
The company said it would reallocate resources to areas of research more likely to produce results.
In the past six years, several drugs have made it to the final stage of trials only to be shown not to work. These have included gantenerumab from Roche, solanezumab from Eli Lilly and bapineuzumab from Pfizer.

J&J data breach means hundreds of addresses published online

Johnson & Johnson has come under fire for an online data breach that meant the home addresses of hundreds of people in Ireland were published online, The Times said on Tuesday.
As part of a promotion for Aveeno moisturiser, J&J asked customers to fill in an online form, said the paper. To prevent people from getting more than one free sample the form was checked against a text file of those who had already signed up. This file should have been encrypted and unreadable but was instead published on a website by the company that designed the promotion.
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