Press review

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AstraZeneca reassures investors of pipeline strength

Country : Hong Kong, Ireland, U.S., UK

Keywords :
LONDON, 20 Apr (APM) - AstraZeneca used the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting in Chicago to reassure investors it has enough early-stage medicines in its pipeline to create the blockbuster drugs of the future, said the Sunday Times.
The UK firm is battling to replace lost revenues from drugs no longer protected by patents, said the paper, highlighting anti-cholesterol drug Crestor (rosuvastatin), which lost patent protection in 2016.
Sean Bohen, chief medical officer at AZN, said investors should be “reassured” by the announcements. “We are very eager to make sure we don’t end up in the situation again where we have a few very successful late-stage molecules helping a lot of patients... but we run into a situation where those patents expire and there’s not something to sustain it,” Bohen said.

Shire rejects £42.4 billion Takeda offer as Allergan drops out

A potential battle for control of Shire emerged on Thursday after the Irish drugmaker rejected a £42.4 billion takeover offer from Japanese rival Takeda and Botox-maker Allergan said it would consider an offer, then backed out hours later, the Financial Times, The Telegraph and The Guardian reported the same day.
U.S. company Allergan’s share price had reacted negatively to the idea of its doing a deal and it said it would not make a bid, the FT said.
Meanwhile Shire, which makes the ADHD drug Adderall and focuses on rare diseases, was the top FTSE 100 riser on Thursday after Allergan said it was considering making an offer, the Guardian noted, adding its shares rose nearly 6%.
Bidding rumours first started on Sunday, when Takeda’s chief executive Christophe Weber was said to be lining up meetings with Shire's major holders ahead of what the Sunday Telegraph reported could be a potential £35 billion offer.
Though three subsequent higher-than-anticipated offers were rejected, Shire said talks with Takeda remain ongoing (APMHE 57761). The three previous offers were £44 a share, £45.50 a share and £46.50 a share, the FT reported on Thursday.
Takeda said talks between the two companies were continuing, but played down expectations it would raise its offer significantly, saying it remained “disciplined” on the terms and intended to “maintain its well-established dividend policy and investment-grade credit rating”, the paper noted.
Concerns have been raised by analysts that Takeda would struggle to fund the takeover, as Shire is worth £7 billion more than the Japanese group, it said. City sources told the Sunday Telegraph that Takeda was understood to be considering splitting Shire and selling its neuroscience division in order to help finance the deal.
On Monday, the FT reported that Shire will sell its oncology business to Servier for $2.4 billion (APMHE 57691).The paper said the deal could complicate Takeda’s planned bid for Shire, however, as oncology was one of the key areas identified by the Japanese firm as rationale for a takeover.

EU rejects Theresa May's Brexit Irish border solution

The EU has rejected British proposals for avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland in a move which will cast serious doubt on the UK’s ability to leave the customs union, The Telegraph reported on Thursday.
Experts in the pharma industry have aired concerns over a closed border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, with some suggesting it could serve as a "land bridge" between the UK and Europe to help allay customs clogging (APMHE 55489).
However, The Telegraph quoted senior EU diplomatic sources as saying May’s plan for avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland were subjected to a “systematic and forensic annihilation” this week at a meeting between senior EU officials and Olly Robbins, the UK’s lead Brexit negotiator.
“It was a detailed and forensic rebuttal,” added the source, who was directly briefed on the meeting in Brussels on Wednesday. “It was made clear that none of the UK’s customs options will work. None of them.”

Advent to buy Sanofi's European generics arm

The FT on Wednesday reported that private equity firm Advent has confirmed that it has entered into exclusive negotiations to buy Zentiva, Sanofi’s European generics business, for €1.91 billion (APMHE 57713).
A statement from the two firms on Tuesday said that the U.S. buyout group’s offer is firm, binding and fully financed, and that the transaction is expected to close by the end of this year, the paper said. The announcement confirms a report in the FT late last week that Advent had pulled ahead of rivals including buyout firm BC Partners in the race to acquire Zentiva, which Sanofi is selling as part of a strategy to simplify the company and dispose of non-core assets.

Pace of drug price growth slows in U.S.

U.S. spending on prescription drugs rose to $453 billion last year although the pace of growth slowed considerably, the FT reported on Thursday.
Gross spending on drugs increased 1.4% in 2017, compared with a 4.8% rise the previous year, while net spending — which accounts for manufacturer discounts and rebates — rose 0.6%.
Both figures were lower than the Federal Reserve’s favoured measure of inflation, the personal consumption expenditures price index excluding food and energy, which rose by 1.6% in February against the year before, the paper noted.
The figures were part of a report from The Iqvia Institute for Human Data Science, which also reported a $130 billion difference between invoice spending on medicines and the amount in net revenues recouped by drugmakers, attributing it to higher discounts and rebates, the FT said.
It quoted Michael Kleinrock, research director at the Iqvia Institute, as saying the $130 billion had gone to companies pejoratively known as “middlemen” — for example pharmacy benefits managers, wholesalers and pharmacies — as well as health insurers and hospitals (APMHE 57624).
“All of them got some of it — but it is very difficult to tell exactly who got what,” he said.

U.S. opioid prescriptions in record decline

The volume of opioids prescribed by U.S. doctors fell by 12% in 2017 from 2016 - the largest amount on record, the FT said on Thursday. It said it is a sign that efforts to curb America’s drug addiction epidemic (APMHE 57742) are starting to bear fruit. 
The figures cited came from the Iqvia Institute for Human Data Science.
“The market has never had a decline this big,” said Michael Kleinrock, research director at the Iqvia Institute.
The epidemic has been blamed for the fact that life expectancy in the U.S. is falling even as it rises in most other developed countries, the paper noted.

Genetic testing boom continues as UK start-up DNAFit sold for $10 million

The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday reported that Prenetics, a London-based company, has cashed in on the boom in DNA testing kits by selling itself to a Hong Kong firm backed by Alibaba.
It has paid $10 million for DNAFit, a five-year-old company that sells tests designed to determine a person’s suitability for different diets and exercise regimes.
DNAFit's founder Avi Lasarow Lasarow said he had previously turned down offers for outside funding or acquisitions, having relied entirely on early investments from friends and family, but that Prenetics, which has become the market leader in south-east Asia, was the “right partner” for the company, the paper said.

NHS genomic 'revolution' in treatment jeopardised by cuts, MPs warn

Using genetic data to personalise treatments could revolutionise NHS care, but MPs warn that patients risk missing out because of cuts to staff training and technology budgets needed to put it to best use, The Independent noted on Friday.
It cited a report by the Commons Science and Technology Committee, which said the government also has more to do to reassure the public about the safety of their medical information in the wake of failed NHS data harvesting drives.
The UK has an “internationally enviable position” in genetics and genomic research, the committee said, and the valuable data it holds could be used to save lives and generate revenue for the NHS.
But this can only happen if patients understand the benefits of the technology and are willing to share their information, the report adds.

J&J's results beat expectations

The FT on Wednesday said first-quarter results from Johnson & Johnson were ahead of Wall Street expectations, sending shares in the healthcare company higher in premarket trading. The world’s largest healthcare company was bolstered by its pharmaceuticals division, where revenues grew 19% to $9.84 billion. (APMHE 57721)

'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli moved to low-security federal prison in New Jersey

Martin Shkreli, the pharmaceutical industry entrepreneur vilified for hiking the price of a life-saving drug, has been moved to a low-security federal prison in New Jersey where inmates are not locked behind bars and can enjoy sports and music facilities, The Guardian reported on Thursday.
Shkreli, 35, was transferred on Tuesday from a bleak federal facility in New York to the federal correctional institution at Fort Dix, about 40 miles north-east of Philadelphia, the paper wrote.
The man nicknamed “Pharma Bro” for his audacity over drug pricing and puerile public displays of arrogance was sentenced last month to seven years in prison for securities fraud. He was also fined $75,000.
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