Press review

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Novartis Germany echoes new CEO's call for modernisation

BERLIN, Jan 26 (APM) - Novartis Germany's general manager Sidonie Golombowski-Daffner appeared to be closely aligned with the message coming from new CEO Vasant Narasimhan in an interview she gave Sueddeutsche Zeitung published on Monday (p17).
Novartis needs to change its corporate culture to become faster, more innovative and digitally oriented, she said. The historical focus on development and marketing of new products is important, but it is not sufficient.
Speaking at the annual results meeting on Wednesday (APMHE 56567), Narasimhan said he wants to make Novartis a "data-oriented, digitally supported organisation", Handelsblatt (p19) and SZ (p18) said on Thursday.
Vas, as he is known, will take the helm from Joe Jimenez in February with the company in good condition, the papers said. Profits rose 12% to $7.7 billion in 2017, and sales also increased slightly. While Novartis is expanding, Narasimhan expects to achieve further growth in 2018. He plans to build on the work Jimenez started, but intends to "speed it up", Handelsblatt said.
Narasimhan also spoke about the future of CAR-T therapies, the market for which could reach annual growth of 46% by 2019, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) said (p22). By 2028, potential sales volumes could be around $8.5 billion, it added. Novartis expects a second U.S. approval for its CAR-T Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel) in mid-2018, it said.

Germany's DAX leaps on demand for pharma and medical stocks

Germany's DAX index reached a new all-time high of 13,596 points, largely due to demand for pharmaceutical and medical sector stocks, Die Welt reported on Wednesday (p15).
Traders cited gains in the U.S. pharma and biotech sectors, where acquisitions were the main drivers. Bayer gained 3.3%, followed by Fresenius and Fresenius Medical Care with mark-ups of 2.8% and 1.9% respectively. Merck shares rose by 1.3%, the paper said.

New anticoagulants better than Marcumar

Novel oral anticoagulants (NOACs) on the market in Germany are safe and more effective than standard therapy generic drug Marcumar (phenprocoumon), Die Welt said on Thursday (p20).
Despite the benefits of the new drugs, many doctors are reluctant to prescribe them because they are considerably more expensive for payers to cover and drain the quarterly budgets doctors agree with insurers, the paper said.
According to doctors interviewed by Die Welt, NOACs lead to fewer cerebral haemorrhages because their anticoagulant effect is more specific to certain types of blood cells than that of Marcumar. They also become effective within two to four hours of ingestion and completely disappear within one to 11 days after treatment is stopped. Marcumar does not become effective for 38 to 72 hours and its effects can last for up to 14 days after treatment cessation, the paper said.

Takeover fever rising

U.S. biotech Celgene announced it will buy U.S. cancer immunotherapy specialist Juno Therapeutics for $9 billion, while Sanofi has offered $11.6 billion for U.S. haemophilia specialist Bioverativ, Handelsblatt (p19, 27, 46) and FAZ (p19) reported on Tuesday.
In the wake of the takeover of Juno, the shares of German biotech Medigene,
which also specialises in cancer immunotherapy, went up, Handelsblatt said.
Though Sanofi's growth problems cannot be solved by the Bioverativ acquisition, this is nevertheless a good step into a promising new market. As a pioneer in the development of a longer-acting generation of haemophilia drugs, Bioverativ has what it takes to quickly gain market share, the paper said.
This is Brandicourt's first major acquisition since he took the helm at Sanofi. In April 2015, he had set himself ambitious goals, but since then he had had a couple of misses: in 2016 he was outbid by Pfizer for U.S. cancer specialist Medivation (APMHE 49788), and he missed out on Swiss biotech company Actelion, which was bought by Johnson & Johnson (APMHE 53447), the paper said.

Dermapharm wants to finance acquisitions

Privately held German generics and over the counter (OTC) drugmaker Dermapharm intends to raise 100 million euros by going public in the first half of 2018, 45 million euros of which it will put towards financing acquisitions in Germany and abroad, FAZ reported on Wednesday (p25).
Twenty million euros will be used for 'further internationalisation' of the company, Hans-Georg Feldmeier, chairman of the board of management, and Karin Samusch, chief executive officer for the group development, said in an interview with FAZ on the planned initial public offering (IPO) announced last week (APMHE 56440).
The remaining 35 million euros are to be invested in the existing business to expand centralised shipping and production.

Stada plans internationalisation

German generics and OTC drugmaker Stada plans further expansion in Vietnam as well as in the UK, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, reported FAZ on Monday (p22) (APMHE 56528).
Stada has settled a conflict with one of its Vietnam joint ventures, Stada CEO Claudio Albtrecht told FAZ. It intends to "maintain market share in the country over the next two years and grow strongly in the third year".
Stada also intends to roll out generic and OTC products in the UK and Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, and to enter new markets in the Middle East - Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Turkey- and Algeria.
Albrecht said an internal investigation is looking into possible fraud and corruption at the company. So far no "serious crimes" has been identified. The report will be finalised in the next three to six months, he said.

Hope for Alzheimer's cure remains

Despite the decision of U.S. pharma giant Pfizer to drop out of Alzheimer's research and drug development, other companies including AstraZeneca, Biogen and Lilly are still putting money into finding a cure, Die Welt reported on Monday (p20) and SZ on Tuesday (p14).
Many companies carrying out research wonder if they have the right molecule in their sights and if beta-amyloid is actually the main cause of brain cell death, SZ said.
U.S. physician Leslie Norins has offered a million-dollar prize to the first person to prove by 2021 that an infectious agent is the root cause of Alzheimer's disease, Die Welt said. In 2016, a number of Alzheimer's researchers called for a bigger focus on the role of infections in the development of the disease, but there has not been significant follow-through, the paper said.
German researchers are also exploring new pathways for a potential cure, reported Der Spiegel on Saturday (p103-104).
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