MADRID, Feb 16 (APM) - The Spanish national police have arrested 25 people accused of selling counterfeit drugs, from whom 500,000 weight loss pills have been confiscated, it is being widely reported on Friday.
Dailies La Razón and La Vanguardia both emphasise this is the biggest-ever operation against counterfeit drugs. Most of the fake medicines were advertised as treatments for excess weight and erectile dysfunction, La Razón notes.
All the counterfeits were manufactured in clandestine laboratories in Asia, without quality controls of any kind. Their side effects can be diverse, and are particularly dangerous for people with cardiac conditions. With no controls from Spanish medicines agency AEMPS, their components remain unknown, La Razón reports.
According to El País, the drugs entered Spain from India and got sent to more than 6,000 customers from the network’s distribution premises in the south of Andalusia region. The police reports that payments to providers were made in bitcoin, which made the investigation extremely difficult, the newspaper adds.
A number of regional newspapers, dailies ABC, El Mundo, El Periódico, financial El Economista and medical journal Redacción Médica also carry the story.
Overexpensive vaccines blamed for millions of children’s deaths
On Sunday, daily El País carried an editorial accusing big pharma of allowing millions of children in poor countries to die from diseases which could be prevented with their vaccines, which are too expensive.
The author said that Kevin Watkins, director of charity Save the Children UK, told her that the most common cause of mortality among children is pneumonia. There is a vaccine which could prevent millions of deaths, and it made by Pfizer, she added.
The author said this reminded her of John Le Carré’s novel ‘The Constant Gardener’, which she called “an indispensable book to understand how big international pharma works”. It was inspired by Pfizer’s clinical trial scandal unveiled by The Washington Post in 2006, she said.
“Abuse from pharmaceutical companies has not ceased. Maybe there are not clinical trials with poor children anymore, but patents of vaccines which could save lives continue to be bought”, she argued.
Greece plans to claim millions from Novartis in corruption case
Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has said his government will claim millions of euros from Novartis following allegations that the company bribed prominent politicians into overpaying for its medicines, financial El Economista and daily El Diario reported on Tuesday. (APMHE 56779
El Economista quoted Tsipras as saying: “"We will make use of every power afforded by national and international law to recover the money stolen from the Greek people, down to the last euro.
Investigators suspect that the bribery may have cost taxpayers around €3 billion over a decade, the financial noted.
New treatment with Gedeon Richter’s Esmya prohibited
Spanish regulator AEMPS has forbidden doctors to initiate treatment of patients with Gedeon Richter’s Esmya (ulipristal acetate) due to cases of severe liver damage allegedly related to the drug, medical journal Redacción Médica reported on Monday. (APMHE 56775
For those who are already receiving the drug, AEMPS recommends monitoring liver function at least once a month, and again from two to four weeks after treatment has ended. Tests must be carried out immediately if signs or symptoms of liver damage appear, the journal said.
In an unrelated Monday story, daily El Periódico reported that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has opened a review into the uterine fibroid treatment.
China’s Harbin to buy 40% of GNC for $300 million
China’s Harbin Pharmaceutical will acquire 40% of U.S. distribution firm GNC for $300 million, financial El Economista reported on Thursday.
According to a joint statement, the two firms have also agreed to create a Chinese subsidiary for the manufacturing, distribution and sale of GNC’s products in China, the financial noted.
Following the approval of regulators in both countries, the operation is expected to be effective in the second half of this year, El Economista added.
Astellas acquires U.S. Universal Cells
Astellas Pharma has acquired U.S. cell therapy company Universal Cells, medical journal Acta Sanitaria reports on Friday. (APMHE 56904
Astellas will pay $102.5 million upfront plus milestone payments depending on the achievement of clinical targets, the journal notes.