Press review


Horizon accused of price gouging in U.S.

Country : Austria, Belgium, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, U.S., UK

Keywords :
LONDON, Feb 16 (APM) - Ireland’s Horizon Pharma is selling a bottle of two-in-one painkillers for almost $3,000 in the U.S., despite the drugs being available separately for $36, the FT said on Thursday.
The paper described the increased price of Vimovo, which Horizon bought from AstraZeneca in November 2013, as an example pf ‘price gouging’, where a company buys an off-patent drug with little or no competition and increases its price significantly.
AZN sold the drug at $138 per bottle before it was acquired by Horizon.
Vimovo combines the anti-inflammatory naproxen and proton-pump inhibitor esomeprazole. Individually, the drugs are available as over-the-counter products and can cost as little as $36, said the FT.

Ireland could secure cheaper drugs by joining European coalition

Ireland is looking to join a coalition of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Austria to negotiate cheaper prices for drugs, The Times said on Tuesday (APMHE 56882).
The paper said that health minister Simon Harris brought a memo to cabinet to outline ways to allow Ireland to explore opportunities to secure sustainable and affordable access for patients to innovative medicines, including the potential to join the BeNeLuxA Initiative.

Amgen 'looking hard' at striking deals using $27 billion cash pile

Amgen said it is "looking hard" for deals to deploy its $27 billion cash pile, but warned it is struggling to find targets amid soaring valuations in the life sciences sector, the Financial Times reported at the weekend.
The note of caution comes as M&A activity in the healthcare sector recorded its strongest start to a year in more than a decade, with almost $32 billion of global deals announced since the start of January.
However, buyers have been offering record premiums to clinch deals, with Celgene agreeing to pay $9 billion for cell therapy group Juno — almost twice its undisturbed market value. Sanofi paid a 63% premium for haemophilia specialist Bioverativ.
“We want to deploy any excess cash and our first priority is to do acquisitions and invest in the business,” said David Meline, Amgen’s chief financial officer, in an interview with the FT.

Future direction of Immunocore in doubt

The Sunday Times reported that the resignation of Dr Eliot Forster, the chief executive of Immunocore, raises questions over the future direction of one of Britain's "hottest young biotechs", adding that he is expected to stay with company until the end of this month.
It said that during his three years in charge, he has struck deals with GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca. The paper added that the biotech is considered to have the potential to be one of Britain's rare "unicorns" - start-ups worth more than $1 billion.
The biotech will be led on an interim basis by Andrew Hotchkiss, its chief commercial officer, who joined four months ago. (APMHE 56843)

Biogen shares down after patients added to Alzheimer’s study

Biogen shares were down on Wednesday as it added an additional 510 patients to a trial of its Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab after seeing “increased variability”, the FT said that day.
The paper said shares fell 7.35% in afternoon trading, noting that larger clinical trials have greater statistical “power”, meaning it is easier to prove a drug has a beneficial effect.
The FT quoted RBC analyst Brian Abrahams, who said: "Net-net we view this as a negative, as it highlights the inherent challenges in Alzheimer’s studies.”

Arthritis drugs could halve the risk of Alzheimer's disease, study suggests

Tuesday's Daily Telegraph reported that drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis could halve the risk of patients developing dementia, according to research.
A study by Oxford University and NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre analysed the records of more than 5,800 people living arthritis in the UK.
They compared 3,876 patients who took disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), particularly methotrexate, with 1,938 patients who did not.
The findings published in the journal Alzheimer's and Dementia: Translational Research and Clinical Interventions, found those on the anti-inflammatory medication had approximately half the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

Merck halts trial of Alzheimer’s drug

Merck & Co will stop a trial of its BACE inhibitor verubecestat for Alzheimer’s disease, the FT said on Tuesday (APMHE 56870).
The paper said the decision was based on the recommendation of an external committee.

Indivior shares drop as it sets aside cash for legal battles

The FT on Thursday said that Indivior saw shares drop 9.1% after it was forced to set aside money to deal with a series of legal disputes. (APMHE 56905)
The paper said that the company is engaged in litigation with several companies, states and federal bodies in the U.S., for which it has booked legal provisions of $185 million. This brings the total amount set aside to $483 million.

Teva shares climb as Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway takes stake

The FT on Wednesday said Teva shares climbed on the news that Warren Buffet’s company Berkshire Hathaway had taken a new stake in the company (APMHE 56896).
The stake of around 18.9 million shares is worth roughly $358 million, said the paper.

Shire reports better than expected 2017 revenues

Shire reported better than expected 2017 revenues but warned that profits could fall in 2018 due to generic competition, the FT said on Wednesday.
The paper said revenues for last year increased to $15.2 billion, compared to consensus forecasts of just under $15 billion (APMHE 56880).
However, the company said that reported earnings per share could fall to between $7.30 and $7.90 for 2018.

BMS in record biotech partnership with Nektar

Bristol-Myers Squibb has signed a partnership worth up to $3.6 billion with Nektar Therapeutics to develop a cancer immunotherapy, the FT said on Wednesday.
BMS will pay an upfront fee of $1.85 billion in exchange for 35% of global profits from NKTR-214. Nektar is also entitle to a further $1.78 billion in milestones.
The FT said the upfront fee is the largest ever for a biotech licensing deal (APMHE 56879).

Roche to buy Flatiron for $1.9 billion

Roche is to buy cancer start-up Flatiron Health for $1.9 billion, the FT said on Thursday (APMHE 56917).
The paper said that Roche had previously held a 12.6% equity stake in Flatiron, whose previous investors include the venture capital arm of Google’s parent company Alphabet.

Oxford BioMedica shares rise on Bioverativ collaboration

Shares in UK company Oxford BioMedica rose more than 12% on the news of its collaboration with U.S. biotech Bioverativ, worth up to $100 million.
Bioverativ was recently acquired by Sanofi in a deal worth $11.6 billion.

Purdue to stop marketing opioid painkiller OxyContin

Purdue will stop marketing the powerful opioid painkiller OxyContin to doctors, the Guardian said at the weekend (APMHE 56835).
The paper said that OxyContin has long been the world’s top-selling opioid painkiller, bringing in billions in sales for Purdue, but that the drug has been at the centre of the opioid abuse crisis in the U.S.
Purdue said it eliminated more than half its sales staff this week and would no longer send sales representatives to doctors’ offices to discuss opioid drugs. Its remaining sales staff of about 200 will focus on other medications.

Opioid prescribing on rise in England

The prescription of opioid drugs by GPs in England is rising steadily, the Guardian said on Tuesday.
The paper referenced a study in the British Journal of General Practice that also reveals a north-south divide. Nine out of 10 of the highest-prescribing regions were in the north. Prescriptions of painkillers were higher in areas of socioeconomic deprivation.
The authors point out that the widespread prescribing of opioids for people with long-term pain is controversial because “opioids are ineffective in much chronic pain beyond modest effects in the short term”.

Greek prime minister calls to investigate Novartis bribery allegations

The Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has called for parliament to investigate whether two of his predecessors and eight former ministers accepted bribes from Novartis after allegations of industrial-scale bribery involving senior politicians, the Guardian said on Monday.
Former PMs Antonis Samaras and Panagiotis Pikrammenos, the governor of the Bank of Greece and the EU’s migration commissioner were all identified as alleged beneficiaries of bribes in a report compiled by anti-corruption prosecutors with the help of U.S. authorities.
Novartis is alleged to have bribed politicians to approve overpriced contracts and to have made payments to thousands of doctors as part of concerted efforts to boost sales between 2006 and 2015.

AbbVie share repurchase programme

AbbVie has launched a $10 billion share repurchase programme, the FT said on Thursday.
The company is poised to cash in on tax reforms in the U.S., said the paper. Shares in the biotech rose more than 2% on the news.



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