Press review

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Akorn to battle Fresenius in court over collapsed deal

Country : Germany, Netherlands, Russia, U.S.

Keywords :
BERLIN, 27 Apr (APM) - U.S. liquid generic drugmaker Akorn has filed a lawsuit with a court in the U.S. state of Delaware against Germany's Fresenius for pulling out of its acquisition deal, Die Welt (p9), Handelsblatt (p16) and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) (p22) reported on Tuesday.
In its lawsuit, Akorn said the accusations against it are unfounded and that Fresenius should be required to fulfil its obligations under the buyout agreement, Die Welt said.
Fresenius announced on 22 April that it would terminate its $4.7 billion merger agreement with Akorn, due to Akorn's failure to fulfil several closing conditions, reported FAZ on Monday (p20) (APMHE 57791).

Boehringer successful in 2017

Boehringer Ingelheim grew significantly in 2017, FAZ (p19) and Handelsblatt reported on Thursday (p54).
The group, which includes human medicines, veterinary medicines and contract manufacturing, generated net sales of €18 billion, a 14% increase from 2016 (APMHE 57842). In addition, its pipeline is well stocked, with 80 projects in development (APMHE 57866).
"There won't be a year like 2017 again anytime soon. It has shown us what we are able to achieve," board chairman Hubertus von Baumbach told FAZ.
Boehringer posted a €223 million loss, but that was due to extraordinary factors - especially the highest tax bill in the company’s 133-year history, due a business swap with Sanofi completed at the beginning of 2017 (APMHE 57850). In the deal, Boehringer acquired Sanofi's veterinary division and sold its consumer health business.
At the end of 2017, von Baumbach appointed IT expert Michael Schmelmer as the new chief finance officer in order to run the group's digital transformation (APMHE 57863).
Von Baumbach has radically restructured the group in less than two years, Handelsblatt wrote.

Merck KGaA struggles to build synergies

Merck KGaA, which celebrates its 350th anniversary on 3 May, is still struggling to build synergies with its new structure, reported Handelsblatt on Thursday (p22-25) and FAZ on Friday (p21).
In the last few years, Merck has made three major acquisitions (Serono, Millipore and Sigma-Aldrich) and reshaped its structure into three divisions: pharma, life sciences and performance materials. Its transformation continues, as it has recently agreed the sale of its consumer health business to Procter & Gamble for €3.4 billion.
It is not yet clear how much operational dynamism the new structure will really create, Handelsblatt said.
Merck is now more focused on innovation-driven business areas and has successfully renewed its drug research. For the first time in years, the company has two new drugs in the pharmaceutical market and has grown overall with its recent expansion, the paper said.

Russia approves Bayer's takeover of Monsanto

Russia's anti-monopoly regulator FAS has approved Bayer's takeover of U.S. agricultural group Monsanto, Handelsblatt reported on Thursday (p19).
Bayer agreed to transfer some technologies to Russian recipients in the area of seed breeding and digital farming, over a period of five years. The approval of the U.S. Department of Justice is still pending.
On Thursday, the Bayer group reached an agreement with chemicals group BASF to sell some products for a total of €1.7 billion in order to fulfil commitments made to the European Commission and other regulators, reports FAZ on Friday (p21).

Roche raises 2018 outlook

Roche has raised its 2018 outlook to low single-digit sales growth after a good performance in the first quarter, report FAZ (p22) and Die Welt (p10) on Friday.
The Swiss group increased sales by 6% to 13.6 billion Swiss francs (€11.4 billion) in Q1, clearly exceeding analysts' expectations, Handelsblatt said. Around 80% of the growth in the pharmaceuticals business resulted from newly launched drugs, especially multiple sclerosis drug Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) (APMHE 57864).

Takeda's purchase of Shire 'expensive'

Takeda's €52 billion takeover of Shire seems to be very expensive, wrote FAZ on Thursday (p19 and 22) (APMHE 57837).
Takeda has offered a 60% premium on Shire's share price. According to Moody's, Takeda's debt ratio almost doubled and its credit rating could fall by several notches.
Takeda's shares were down 9% on Wednesday, FAZ noted.

MorphoSys satisfied with Nasdaq launch

German biotech company MorphoSys was satisfied with its start on the U.S. Nasdaq stock exchange last week, wrote FAZ on Saturday (p31).
The shares closed at $26.16 in the first day of trading on Thursday after being introduced at $25.04. American depository shares (ADS) were also put on sale.
The biotech collected $207 million on Friday and "the capital increase was significantly oversubscribed," said MorphoSys CFO Jens Holstein.
The IPO continues over the next 30 days, with additional ADS being placed on the market.

German discount agreements under scrutiny

Ministries of health from two regions, Hesse and Saarland, are pushing for an end to discount agreements negotiated between individual health insurance companies and manufacturers, wrote Handelsblatt on Tuesday (p9) (APMHE 57838).
A draft resolution will be discussed at the annual meeting of 16 regional health ministers (GMK) on 20 and 21 June in Düsseldorf.

Support for ban of mail order prescription drugs weakens

The Christian democrat party, CDU, seems to be moving away from its support for a ban of prescription drug sales by mail order pharmacies, reported FAZ on Wednesday (p17).
Health minister Jens Spahn (CDU) has made it clear that the project was not a top priority and CDU drug expert Michael Hennrich - a previous supporter of the ban - has appealed for "a reasonable solution".
Hennrich told FAZ that mail order pharmacies may conclude agreements with health insurance companies to sell prescription drugs at a lower price, but would then receive lower remuneration from health insurance companies.

Apotheke Europe intends to significantly expand market share

Europe's leading online pharmacy has placed a convertible bond of €75 million in order to expand its over-the-counter business in Germany, FAZ reported on Tuesday.
The company, which is registered in the Netherlands, currently has a market share of about 20%, the paper said. The market for non-prescription drugs, care and beauty products in continental Europe is about €35 billion but the total market, including prescription drugs, is four times larger at about €164 billion, the paper said.
Apotheke Europe does not expect the Germany government to continue with its plan to ban mail order prescriptions, FAZ said.

Health minister's savings plan for insurees not well received

The plans of health minister Jens Spahn (CDU) to reduce costs for people insured by statutory health insurance companies have not been well received, including by the minister's own party, FAZ writes on Tuesday (p15) and Die Welt on Wednesday (p9).
Earlier in April, Spahn presented a bill limiting the financial reserves of statutory health insurers and implementing a return to parity in health insurance contributions between employers and insurees starting 1 January 2019, as laid out in the ruling coalition agreement in February (APMHE 56789).
Pharma trade bodies immediately criticised the bill for being short-sighted (APMHE 57801), and members within Spahn's own conservative party - CDU/CSU - see it as poor economic policy, FAZ wrote.
Social democrat (SPD) party health spokesman Karl Lauterbach said Spahn's plan is not possible due to already agreed additional expenditure, for example for improvements in nursing care in hospitals, Die Welt reported. The minister's announcement was "more news than substance," Lauterbach said.

Major insurer TK to launch electronic patient file

Major German health insurer TK will launch the first nationwide payer-managed electronic patient file by the end of 2018, putting other payers and the health ministry under pressure, Die Welt reported (p9) on Wednesday.
TK's 10 million plus members will be able to store their health data in one place and manage them themselves with their smartphones. Via the TK app, members will be able to access a digital data safe with medical documents and other records such as X-rays. The "TK-Safe" was developed in cooperation with IBM Germany, the paper said.
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