Press review

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Growth pause for Merck KGaA in 2018

Country : France, Germany, Israel, U.S.

Keywords :
BERLIN, Mar 9 (APM) - Merck KGaA, which celebrates its 350th anniversary in 2018, is expected to experience a slowdown in earnings this year year following its expansive restructuring in the previous years, Handelsblatt (p21) and FAZ (p21) report on Friday.
"2018 will be a challenging business year," Merck CEO Stefan Oschmann said at the annual results press conference on Thursday. "But we are convinced that our efforts will pay off, and we are confident that Merck will see further growth in all key performance indicators in 2019."
In 2017, Merck group sales grew by 2% to 15.3 billion euros, mainly thanks to its healthcare and life science divisions (APMHE 57206), while sales in its liquid crystal (performance materials) division decreased due to high competition on the market.

Merck KGaA CEO sees promise in Israel biotech scene

Stefan Oschmann sees potential for working more closely with the Israeli biotech sector, he said in an interview with Die Welt on Sunday (p36).
"The Israelis have a high respect for science and little fear of it," he said. "They have a lot of venture capital; they maintain close cooperation in science, business, military and government. There is therefore a culture that is very innovation-friendly," he added.
Oschmann, who recently met French President Emmanuel Macron, was also positive on working with France on digitalisation.
"I heard a lot of cosmopolitanism and forward-looking ideas," he said.
He was less positive on the prospects of working with U.S. President Trump, who he felt "lucky" to have missed meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
"So far, we have not felt any significant negative consequences for our company and we very much hope that it will remain so," he said of Trump's tenure. However, should problems regarding trade arise from the tariffs Trump has proposed or the free movement of researchers across boarders change, Merck would "undoubtedly take a clear position," he added.
"Trade wars are fatal and have been harbingers of difficult times in history," he concluded.

Bayer will sell more of seeds business to close Monsanto deal

Bayer has entered into negotiations with German chemical group BASF on the sale of its entire vegetable seed business in order to further alleviate EU antitrust concerns, SZ (p20), Die Welt (p12) and FAZ (p18) reported on Thursday.
Bayer said in February that it had offered new concessions to gain EU approval for the Monsanto deal, but declined to provide details at the time (APMHE 56744).
The business has annual sales of about 430 million euros and is estimated to be worth about 1.5 billion euros, the papers said.
In October 2017, Bayer agreed to sell key crop science businesses to BASF for 5.9 billion euros in order to satisfy competition authority requirements (APMHE 55136).

Bayer defends safety of OTC acid reducer Iberogast

The safety of Bayer's over-the-counter (OTC) blockbuster Iberogast has come under fire from a Green party MEP in Germany, prompting the company to launch a public relations campaign defending the drug, SZ (p16) reports on Friday.
Iberogast, which includes extracts from nine medicinal plants, is one of the most popular gastrointestinal products in Germany. Bayer has not disclosed the drug's most recent sales figures, but industry analysts estimate them at around 120 million euros, SZ said.
Bayer put out a four-minute YouTube video statement from its medical director Konstanze Diefenbach defending the safety of the drug after questions about its effects on the liver were raised in the Bundestag and a label change was requested, the paper said.

Stada updates company strategy after takeover

Stada outlined an ambitious new growth programme in its first annual results conference since being acquired by equity investors Bain and Cinven, Handelsblatt (p20) and FAZ (p21, 24 and 41) report on Friday.
CEO Claudio Albrecht plans to invest heavily in new products and open the company up to new markets, including a small, targeted move into the U.S.. More than 100 million euros have been earmarked for the development of a portfolio of biosimilars over the next three years (APMHE 57220).
The takeover was expensive for Stada, which paid 45 million euros for consultants in connection with the acquisition, making it the second most expensive German takeover by a private equity company, FAZ said.
Those fees and 20 million euros worth of severance payments had a considerable effect on the company's balance sheet in 2017. Stada has had five CEOs in just over two years, it noted.
Albrecht will also step down as CEO at the end of August when Peter Goldschmidt takes over. He assumes that the new CEO will continue the strategy agreed upon with the owners, Bain Capital and Cinven, Handelsblatt said.

German biotech develops gene tests to match drugs with patients

German biotech Humatrix has developed genetic tests which it claims can predict the efficacy and tolerability of various medicines in individual patients, FAZ reported on Wednesday (p33).
The company's platform is based on results from 2,700 medical publications which Humatrix has incorporated into a database, the paper said. It includes tests for beta-blockers in high blood pressure, acid blockers for stomach problems, various painkillers and cancer drugs, FAZ said.
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