Press review

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Low-cost hepatitis C treatment safe and effective in clinical trials

Country : Ireland, U.S., UK

Keywords :
LONDON, 13 Apr (APM) - A treatment for hepatitis C that costs $300 for a 12-week course has been shown in clinical trial to be safe an effective, the Guardian said on Thursday.
Not-for-profit group the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) is working with the Egyptian company Pharco Pharmaceuticals to bring a combination treatment of ravidasvir and sofosbuvir to countries that cannot afford to pay the high prices charged by companies such as Gilead and AbbVie.
Gilead’s Harvoni now costs about $48,000 for a 12-week course in Malaysia and $12,000 in Chile, said the paper. Gilead’s previous Sovaldi treatment cost $1,000 a pill, or $84,000 over 12 weeks.
Abbie’s Mavyret, launched last year with a shorter, eight-week treatment course, is priced at $26,400.
Bernard Pécoul, executive director of DNDi, said: “The results indicate that the sofosbuvir/ravidasvir combination is comparable to the very best hepatitis C therapies available today but it is priced affordably and could allow an alternative option in countries excluded from pharmaceutical company access programmes.”

Witty’s appointment at Optum part of series of changes to impact pharma profits

The Sunday Times featured an analysis piece on former GlaxoSmithKline CEO Sir Andrew Witty’s decision to join Optum, an organisation that negotiates the price of medicines on behalf of 65 million U.S. citizens.
The paper said his appointment is the latest in a string of changes that are expected to impact pharma profits, with the likes of Amazon and billionaire investor Warren Buffett developing plans to reduce the cost of healthcare for people in the U.S.
The article describes big pharma as “under siege”, referencing comments made by president Donald Trump that companies are “getting away with murder” by charging the U.S. more than other countries for the same prescription drugs.
UnitedHealth Group, which owns Witty’s new employer Optum, said last week it would pass on the “overwhelming majority” of discounts made with pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to its customers, the article adds.

NHS wasting millions on ‘useless’ back pain injection

The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK is wasting 40 million pounds a year on a “useless” back pain injection, The Times said on Monday.
Analysis of NHS data for The Times has found that patients had 70,608 injections of steroids into facet joints last year, up from 62,570 five years ago, despite guidelines in 2009 and 2016 from NICE that the £540 procedure should not be done.

Study suggests link between doctor payments and prescribing

A new study suggests that doctors are more likely to prescribe certain drugs if they received 'kick-backs', such as free meals and travel fares from the manufacturers, the Daily Mail said on Tuesday.
Researchers found that oncologists were twice as likely to treat patients with either of two types of cancer with a drug if they had a financial relationship with the manufacturer (APMHE 57630).

Celgene looking to boost pipeline with acquisitions after R&D failures

Celgene is looking for new acquisitions to boost its pipeline after several R&D setbacks in recent months, the Financial Times said at the weekend.
The paper said that recent failures have led to fears that the company will not be able to overcome the loss of patent protection for blockbuster cancer drug Revlimid (lenalidomide).
The company recently took over cancer cell therapy specialist Juno for $9 billion, but investors are pressing Celgene to make another deal, the FT said, citing people familiar with the matter.
The paper highlighted potential targets, including cancer specialist Agios and Jounce, but one source said that Celgene is also considering pushing into other therapy areas, such as neurology.

Novartis to buy AveXis for $8.7 billion

Novartis is buying gene therapy developer AveXis for $8.7 billion, the FT said on Monday.
AveXis’s lead drug candidate AVXS-101 has breakthrough therapy designation in the U.S. for spinal muscular atrophy.

Takeda looking to raise cash for Shire bid

Takeda has approached lenders about providing funds for a bid for Shire, The Times is reporting on Friday (APMHE 57662).
The paper says that shares in Ireland-headquartered Shire were up nearly 3% on the news.

GSK sells rare disease portfolio to Orchard Therapeutics

GlaxoSmithKline has sold its rare disease drug portfolio to Orchard Therapeutics in exchange for a stake in the company, the FT said on Thursday (APMHE 57656).
The sale follows comments made last summer by GSK that would focus its R&D resources on priority areas such as HIV and respiratory conditions.

Phase III results for ImmuPharma’s lupus drug could double value of company

The Sunday Times carried a feature on ImmuPharma, which is developing Lupuzor (rigerimod) as a treatment for lupus, an autoimmine condition that can lead to arthritis, kidney problems and hair loss.
Results from a Phase III trial of the drug are due within the next couple of weeks, said the paper, which referenced an analysts who said that a positive result could double the market value of the company.
The data are likely to lead to a tie-up with a leading pharma business, said ImmuPharma’s chief executive Dimitri Dimitriou. “We’re in discussions with most of the big pharma companies.”

Merck & Co has best day on stock market since 2016

Merck & Co had its best day on the stock market in one-and-a-half years, said the FT on Monday.
Shares in the company were up 7% to $57.12 after positive results from a late-stage trial of Keytruda in lung cancer.

Shield to refile Feraccru for anaemia in U.S.

UK-based pharma company Shield Therapeutics will submit a second drug application in the U.S. for Feraccru (ferric maltol) after it was initially turned down by the FDA following disappointing trial results in iron deficiency anaemia, The Times said on Saturday.
The previous setback led Shield to launch a strategic review and it moved to slash costs to give it enough cash to last at least until the end of the year, including cutting staff and promotional spending, said The Times.
The new filing follows feedback from a meeting with FDA and a review of the clinical data, which accounted for the initial negative results. The application is set to be made without having to conduct additional trials and will be funded with its cash.
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