MADRID, Feb 9 (APM) - On Monday, daily El Mundo carried a story with the headline: "New ways to fight cancer", including the most relevant new drugs approved in 2017.
In 2017, the European Medicines Agency approved 35 new drugs, 11 of which were treatments for cancer, the newspaper reported.
The story cited new drugs such as Merck & Co’s Keytruda in lung cancer, noting that Science magazine included the drug in its top 10 scientific advances of the year. El Mundo quoted Joaquín Mateos, the company’s medical director in Spain, as saying: “Pembrolizumab is the first cancer immunotherapy which has shown more efficiency than chemotherapy in first-line non-small lung cancer. This has changed our treatment perspectives in these patient population and proves that the drug represents a great clinical breakthrough”.
In breast cancer, the most outstanding finding was Novartis’ Kisqali (ribociclib) which, combined with other drugs, represents an important breakthrough in metastatic breast cancer. The newspaper quoted sources from Novartis as saying: “Currently, there is no cure for advanced breast cancer. Around 30% of patients diagnosed with breast cancer at early stages will eventually develop the advanced form of the disease Now, patients with metastatic or locally advanced HR+/HER2- breast cancer have a new treatment option which can delay disease progression better than endocrine therapy alone”.
El Mundo also included Roche’s breast cancer Perjeta (pertuzumab), Janssen’s prostate cancer drug Zytig (abiraterone) and its multiple myeloma therapy Darzalex (daratumumab), and Lilly’s Lartruvo (olaratumab) for patients with advanced soft tissue sarcoma in the story as remarkable new drugs of 2017.
Current pricing model 'wrong' - ESMO president
On Sunday, daily El País carried an interview with Josep Tabernero, president of the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO), who said the price of cancer drugs is determined by the market, “which is the wrong model”.
Tabernero said new diagnostic tools and immunotherapy are the most relevant research lines in oncology.
He added that one of ESMO’s main goals is to improve access to drugs, clarifying that this applies both to innovative, pricey therapies and to basic, inexpensive ones, which are affected by supply shortages in some countries.
He said ESMO has been working to have “an open conversation” with stakeholders in order to obtain more affordable cancer drugs and support reimbursement models which are value-based. (APMHE 55827
The price of new drugs is mainly determined by market conditions. A reimbursement model based on the clinical benefit the drug offers to patients would be more appropriate, he said.
Daily La Razón also carried an interview with Tabernero on Sunday, with the same comments about value-based pricing.
Lack of transparency in new reimbursement scheme
Leaders of the ‘It's not healthy’ charity for access to affordable drugs have denounced a lack of transparency in Spain’s new scheme to reimburse orphan medicines and other expensive drugs, daily La Vanguardia, medical journals Acta Sanitaria and Diario Médico report on Friday. (APMHE 56788
According to a statement on the charity's website, the fact that patients with a rare disease will be treated is good news. However, there is concern about a reimbursement scheme which accepts extremely high prices - 400,000 euros a year in the case of Spinraza -, particularly taking into account the fact that a number of personalised immunotherapies for cancer and other new drugs at that price or even higher are to be approved in the short term, La Vanguardia reports.
“Pharmaceutical companies demand the highest prices patients or governments are willing to pay, but medicines are a right and not a speculative investment business,” the statement said, according to Diario Médico.
Top healthcare fortunes in Spain
According to a previous story in daily El Mundo, the owners of Grifols and Almirall are at the top of a list of wealthy Spanish citizens, medical journal Redacción Médica reported on Tuesday.
In fact, the owners of Grifols are the eighth wealthiest Spanish family, followed by Antonio y Jorge Gallardo, owners of Almirall, the journal reported.
The Esteve family is much lower in the list, in 70th place, followed by Juan López-Belmonte, the owner of Rovi, the journal added.
Two million affected by ‘pharmaceutical poverty’ in Spain - charity
Representatives of Spanish charity Banco Farmacéutico have said ‘pharmaceutical poverty’ affects over two million people in the country, financial El Economista reported on Wednesday.
On March 10, Banco Farmacéutico will hold a fundraising to help patients who cannot afford to pay for the medicines they need, the financial said.