Press review

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Poland's national health fund may start enforcing risk-sharing schemes in 2018

WARSAW, 18 May (APM) - Poland's national health fund (NHF) has announced that, as its 2018 pharmaceuticals budget may be exceeded, the authorities could claw back the overspending from pharma companies, reported Rzeczpospolita (pA18) on Monday.
The potentially higher spend than previously predicted arises from changes in the reimbursement list and the authorities have announced that if the budget is actually exceeded, they will apply the payback mechanism for reclaiming the money from the pharmas.
The Polish Association of Pharma Industry Employers (PZPPF) warns that the application of the payback mechanism could restrict access to some medicines, as pharma companies may start reducing their sales to avoid exceeding the volume negotiated with the authorities during the reimbursement negotiations.
Further, PZPPF claims that application of the payback mechanism would primarily affect domestic manufacturers of generics and biosimilars, as a result of which the NHF is already saving around 500 million zlotys (€116.6 million) on reimbursement per year.

Patients cannot refuse to be treated with equivalent drugs

Przemyslaw Wierzbicki, a legal expert from the KKLW Kurzynski Lyszyk Wierzbicki law firm, has said there are no regulations enabling patients to demand treatment with drugs of particular brands, reports Rzeczpospolita (pA21) on Friday.
While there have been concerns that, with the growing popularity of biosimilars, patients could try to take legal action against doctors, pharmacists or medical institutions for providing them with equivalents of the originator drugs they request, Wierzbicki said that under the current regulations, patients do not have such rights in public healthcare.
This means that not only do patients not have to be asked to authorise treatment with biosimilars, but that they do not have to be informed about it.

British scientists working on new drug for colds

Scientists from Imperial College London claim to have found an innovative method of fighting rhinoviruses which are responsible for colds, reported Gazeta Wyborcza (p15) on Thursday.
The scientists discovered a particle which can block the NMT-1 protein in airway epithelial cells, preventing rhinoviruses from replicating. According to the study results published in the Nature Chemistry journal, blocking access to airway epithelial cells could prevent the development of viral infections provided the drug is administered rapidly.
The drug developed by the scientists could be tested on patients within two years, most probably in inhaled form in order to minimise the risk of complications.

Neuca growing faster than the market

Neuca, one of Poland’s largest pharma wholesalers, increased its revenues by 8% in the first quarter of 2018 compared with the same period of 2017, which means it grew 1% faster than the wholesale market overall, reported Parkiet Gazeta Gieldy (p6) and Puls Biznesu (p7) on Tuesday.
Neuca reported revenues of 2.16 billion zlotys (€ 503.5 million) and a net profit of 31.8 million zlotys (€7.4 million), while increasing its wholesale market share to 29.4%. During that period, Neuca also increased sales of its own brands by 28% to 38 million zlotys (€8.9 million), reporting a net profit of 7.9 million zlotys (€1.8 million), both newspapers said.
Neuca currently has 448 products sold through pharmacies under its own brands. It also runs clinical trials and recently acquired Clinmed Pharma, which conducts clinical trials of potential cancer drugs and medical devices, Parkiet reported.

Bioton selling SciGen

Bioton is selling its Singapore subsidiary, SciGen, to Chinese pharma YiFan International Pharmaceutical for $26.8 million, reported Parkiet Gazeta Gieldy (p4) and Puls Biznesu (p8) on Wednesday.
SciGen will also have to return $29 million to Bioton as part of the deal, which is still much less than the $74.5 million the Polish company loaned SciGen in 2006. Bioton will also be granted the rights to sell products based on recombined human insulin in Eastern Asia, the two newspapers reported.
Bioton intends to use the money from the transaction to reduce its debt and increase its working capital, reported Parkiet.

Pure Biologics considers IPO

Polish biotech Pure Biologics is considering obtaining additional funding through flotation on the parallel stock market NewConnect, reports Parkiet Gazeta Gieldy (p2) on Friday.
The company’s business model is based on providing research and analytical services on the biotech market, as well as running its own research projects.
Filip Jelen, the company’s CEO, said Pure Biologics is currently involved in five projects; those with the greatest commercial potential apply to new biological cancer drugs based on antibodies. He added that the company could start clinical trials of its most promising drug in four years, while, during its initial projects, Pure Biologics will certainly look to work with larger, more experienced pharmas.
The company has received 34 million zlotys (€7.9 million) to date from various grants for projects estimated at 45 million zlotys (€10.5 million), and intends to obtain up to 100 million zlotys (€23.3 million) by 2019.
If Pure Biologics decides to enter NewConnect, it would use the money from the share issue to secure the contributions it needs for additional grants, which cover 70-80% of the cost of all research conducted by the company.
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