Press review

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Biosimilars seen as opportunity to increase use of biological drugs

MADRID, 11 May (APM)- Biosimilar medicines are described as “an important advance in the treatment of severe, chronic conditions”, in an article carried by daily La Razón on Tuesday.
Biological drugs can act on specific targets, and their R&D and manufacturing processes are more complex than those of conventional drugs. They can be revolutionary for patients and challenging for payers, consuming over 40% of some hospitals’ budget, the newspaper said.
Biosimilars came in as a cheaper alternative to originators, with comparable efficiency and safety to the latter. Therefore, biosimilars allow a wider use of biological drugs and contribute to the sustainability of the healthcare system, La Razón reported.
There are currently 30 biosimilar drugs available in Europe. Over the next few years, this number is expected to increase significantly.
Amgen was one of the first pharma firms to develop biosimilar medicines. The company is committed to this business and plans to make biological drugs available to more and more patients with severe conditions, Tia Bush, the company’s vice president for Rhode Island site operations, told the newspaper.
Jeff Yant, Amgen’s biosimilars operations director, noted that the firm uses the same technology, scientists, and the same network to produce originators and biosimilars. There are 10 active biosimilar development programmes and a number of them in preclinical stages, he told La Razón.
Amgen’s pipeline includes biosimilar versions of cancer drugs such as Roche's Avastin (bevacizumab) and Herceptin (trastuzumab), Merck's Erbitux (cetuximab) and Roche’s Rituxan (rituximab).
Another important area is that of inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, with biosimilars of AbbVie’s Humira (adalimumab) and Janssen’s Remicade (infliximab).

EMA failed bid used against health minister

On Monday, medical journal Redacción Médica carried an editorial about Spain’s failed bid to host the European Medicines Agency, blaming minister of health, Dolors Montserrat, for persuading president Mariano Rajoy to support Barcelona as Spain’s candidate city when separatists have already shown their intention to go ahead with their plans.
Many people in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector thought the announcement of Barcelona as the candidate was, in fact, fake news, the journal argued. “What might have happened should another city have been selected?”, the editorial asked.

Getting closer to eradicating hepatitis C in HIV patients

Hepatitis C infection among HIV patients fell 30% in 2017 in Spain thanks to access to direct-acting antiviral drugs (DAAs), medical journal Diario Médico reports on Friday.
HIV patients could be the first population group in Spain who are completely hepatitis C-free, according to data provided by aids study group Gesida, from the Spanish Society of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology, the journal reports.
Prevalence of hepatitis C among HIV patients in Spain was 8% in 2017, a 32% drop from 2015 figures. This fall is the consequence of access to DAAs, which grew from 59% of patients to 75% in 2016 and 82% in 2017, the journal notes.

Grifols’ CEO earned 22 times more than the average employee

Victor Grifols’ 2016 salary was 21.8 times higher than that of the average employee in the firm, medical journal Redacción Médica reported on Thursday.
Grifols’ salary was disclosed in a report by trade union Comisiones Obreras, together with those of other CEOs from other Spanish listed companies. According to the union, he made €1.27 million in 2016, compared to €1.24 the previous year.

U.S. drugs agency issues sales suspension on distributor

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has issued a sales suspension on pharma distributor Morris & Dickson over alleged illegal purchases of opioids oxycodone and hydrocodone, daily La Vanguardia reported on Saturday.
The temporary suspension was caused by a number of “suspicious sales to independent pharmacies”, which were considered a potential public health risk, the newspaper added.

Novartis’ payments to Trump’s lawyer exposed

Dailies El País and ABC reported about Novartis’ payments to Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, on Thursday and Friday, respectively. (APMHE 58049)
According to daily El País, Novartis paid Cohen’s company $100,000 a month from March 2017 to February 2018. The contract was signed by Novartis’ former chief executive Joseph Jimenez and ended before his successor Vas Narasimhan took over.

Takeda buys Shire for €50 million

Takeda’s €50 million takeover agreement with Shire was widely reported in national and financial newspapers on Wednesday. (APMHE 58007)
Dailies ABC, La Vanguardia, El País, El Periódico financials El Economista, Expansión, Cinco Días, medical journals Redacción Médica and Acta Sanitaria carried the story.
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