Press review

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Vertex refuses to carry out trials of new cystic fibrosis product in France over price dispute

Country : France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, U.S.

Keywords :
PARIS, Feb 16 (APM) - Les Echos (p21) reported on Wednesday that U.S. biotech Vertex said it will not carry out clinical trials in France on its next generation cystic fibrosis candidate because it believes the price of its approved medicine is too low in the country.
The newspaper noted patients associations have protested against Vertex’ decision, while the company stays firm and declared it is "not willing to conduct clinical trials in France on a product that might never be marketed".
Les Echos said that French HTA authority HAS, in its evaluation of the previous product, dual therapy Orkambi, judged the product should not be evaluated against placebo but compared to the current reference treatment, Pulmozyme from Roche.
Pierre-Henri Patin, general manager of Vertex France, also told the newspaper the company has made six price propositions to the French authorities, the latest at 13,000 euros a month per person, but they were all much higher than regulators' expectations, with a price of around 1,700 euros.
"A gap that the company refuses, knowing that its first generation product, Kalydeco, is sold at 18,000 euros a month," continued Les Echos.
"French patients are feeling they are held hostages, as Orkambi is available in Germany, Italy and Ireland, with similar prices," it added.

New wave of cholesterol treatments arrives in France

A new wave of cholesterol treatments is finally coming to the French market, reported Les Echos (p21), after Amgen and Sanofi received reimbursement prices respectively for Repatha and Praluent.
Repatha obtained a price of 225,79 euros, compared to 299,44 euros for Sanofi’s product. (APMHE 56869), (APMHE 56786)
After noting the products had been approved in Europe in 2015, Les Echos said these treatments will have difficulty competing against statins, because it said those are much cheaper, as they have generics.
The newspaper also underlined the reimbursement approvals only cover very limited categories of patients.
While they "were promised to a bright future with several billion dollars in sales expectations, those new treatments have failed to deliver to date," with sale of $319 million for Repatha in 2017 and 171 million euros for Praluent, Les Echos reported.
It also noted the legal battle that is raging between the two companies over patent disputes.

DBV Technologies soars on U.S. filing of peanut allergy treatment

Thursday’s Les Echos (p15) featured French biotech DBV Technologies, whose stock market value has jumped by more than 40% after the U.S. authorities accepted its filing for its peanut allergy treatment Viaskin Peanut.
The newspaper noted it is a reversal of luck for DBV, after the partial failure of a Phase III trial supporting the application last October, after the main endpoint did not reach the requirement of the FDA.
Its share price collapsed then from 80 euros to under 40 euros.
The FDA, after evaluating the data, has decided "its statistical and clinical contents were sufficient" for the filing to be reviewed.
Les Echos said that other allergy treatments, notably form Stallergenes and ALK, have already been approved without having reached statistical requirements, which gives hope to DBV that its product will be approved.

Roche buys remaining stake in Flatiron Health for $1.9 billion

Friday’s Les Echos (brief p19) briefly reports on Roche's $1.9 billion acquisition of the remaining stake in Flatiron Health.
The company is a U.S. specialist in oncology databases.

Warren Buffet boosts Teva

Billionaire investor Warren Buffet’s decision to take a 1.8% stake in Teva for $358 million gave the Israeli company a stock market boost, Les Echos reports on Friday (p6).
The move "will not save the company, but is perceived as a serious confidence vote" by observers, noted the newspaper, pointing out Teva’s market value rose more than 10% after the deal was announced.

Markets welcome Ipsen’s results

Friday’s Les Echos (p21) notes that markets welcomed Ipsen’s financial performance in 2017 (APMHE 56895), the company’s stock market valuation increasing by 9% after the announcement.
The newspaper also praised the company’s evolution over recent years, saying the pharma has transformed into a "biotech, from a family owned-business", notably thanks to the strategy adopted by its former chief executive Marc de Garidel.
Les Echos also noted that Ipsen has around a billion euros at its disposal that it could use for acquisitions of new compounds, and is expecting this year a new boost of its sales in the U.S.

Novartis' new CEO

Friday’s Le Figaro (p24) carries a profile of Vasant Narasimhan, Novartis' new chief executive, noting he has become the youngest head, at 41, in the pharma 'world'.
The article mainly reviewed its experience, also noting he was present at the top level meeting organized by French President Emmanuel Macron late January.

Greek politicians face Novartis bribery allegations

Wednesday’s L’Humanité (p15) reported on the accusations of bribery launched over 10 Greece politicians, among which two former prime ministers, in the corruption scandal involving Novartis (APMHE 56779).
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