PARIS, Jan 19 (APM) - French pharma body Leem said French President Emmanuel Macron has forgotten many of the promises he made to the sector during its election campaign, reports Friday’s Les Echos (p18).
At a press conference, Leem reminded that Macron had promised during his campaign to change the way France is managing healthcare budgets, and to stop "using pharma as an adjustment variable and changing the reimbursement policy every six months".
Macron had also said France was "sacrificing our pharmaceutical industry in order to make savings", which had spurred hopes for industrials that the pressure on medicines in terms of savings would be reduced, noted Leem.
But to date, none of these promises has been followed by action, Leem added, noting the healthcare budget law for 2018, voted in October 2017, has followed previous ones, with a larger contribution for the sector, a 140 million euros additional effort in terms of savings compared to 2017.
Patrick Errard, chairman of Leem, said: "France keeps on using a short-term budgetary policy, rather than a long-term industrial strategy, with unreadable measures, unpredictable and regulation mechanisms that are disconnected from our reality."
Errad also noted the French government is increasingly taking unilateral decisions regarding the pricing of new medicines and the reimbursement policy, while in the past, it had negotiated with industry.
"The only light pharma can see is weak positive signals from the government," said Les Echos, notably its intention to open discussions with pharma companies over the launch of a comprehensive medico-economic evaluation of innovations, and the relaunch of the Conseil stratégique des industries de santé (CSIS, Healthcare industries strategic council), a structure associating members of the government involved in healthcare policy and industrials created in order to discuss about French pharma competitiveness.
Big pharma in race over 'fatty liver disease' market
Thursday’s Les Echos (p20) reported on the efforts of big pharma like Sanofi, Novo Nordisk and Gilead, to capture the emerging market of 'fatty liver disease', or Nash (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis).
According to figures published by the newspaper, around 10% of the developed countries population could be suffering from the disease, which feeds the appetite of the big pharma, but also some smaller players such as French biotech Genfit and U.S. Intercept, which are ahead in terms of R&D.
According to analysts' forecasts, gaining only 20% of this market could generate sales of 3 to $3.5 billion a year.
Overall, around 20 products are in development in this indication, notably from Gilead, as well as Allergan, which gained a presence in the field with the acquisition of Tobira.
Intercept’s product could reach the market first, with a filing in the U.S. expected shortly, while Genfit is expecting Phase III data in the third quarter of 2019, for a filing in 2021.
Limited sales boost for vaccines manufacturers
On Tuesday, La Croix (p16) reported that pharma companies will only gain a limited sales increase after the extension of mandatory vaccinations to 11, instead of three previously.
Responding to readers' comments that the measure was pushed by the pharmaceutical lobby, the paper noted it is expected that the measure will only bring 12 million euros extra to the French healthcare budget each year.
"For firms, this is not a major step in terms of sales," said Alain Fischer, chairman of the Citizen conciliation committee on vaccination.
The newspaper also noted the vaccines will be reimbursed by social security at 65%, and the rest by private insurers.
Roche set to 'shake up' multiple sclerosis market
Roche is ready to "shakeup" the multiple sclerosis market, reported Les Echos on Monday (p20), after the Swiss pharma received a green light from Brussels to launch Ocrevus in Europe.
The newspaper noted the product is the first to target patients suffering from primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) (APMHE 56395
Les Echos reminded that the product already has been launched in the U.S. with a price of $65,000 a year, which is 20% lower than the competitors.
The newspaper though noted Ocrevus is administered by injection, while its competitors (Sanofi’s Aubagio, Biogen’s Tecfidera and Novartis Gilenya) are oral compounds.
Despite this potential setback, analysts predict Roche’s product could yield annual peak sales of more than $4 billion by 2023 and take between 30 and 40% of the market.
Meanwhile, Biogen’s sales with Tecfidera could decline by 3-4% a year, but the U.S. company will be partially compensated of the arrival of Roche’s products, since it will earn royalties of around 20% on Ocrevus sales.
GSK invests in Evreux manufacturing site
On Tuesday, Les Echos (p18) announced GlaxoSmithKline is investing 20 million euros to boost capacity at its Evreux site.
The move will support manufacturing lines for successors of its flagship asthma product Advair, namely Breo, Anoro and Trelegy.
The newspaper though noted GSK France general manager said this investment was made despite "a decline in France’s attractiveness for pharma".
The site is a major pharma plant in France, with more than 1,150 employees and a current manufacturing capacity of 164 million doses, with 86% going abroad.
Work on the plant will start at the beginning of 2020.
On Tuesday, Les Echos (p29) and L’Usine Nouvelle (website) reported on German pharma Dermapharm’s stock market flotation announcement, which is set to be the first on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange this year.
The dermatology company aims at raising 100 million euros to support its growth. The company has annual sales of around 445 million euros.