Press review

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Sales of Almirall’s cannabis-based MS drug Sativex on the rise

Country : France, Italy, Spain, UK

Keywords :
MADRID, 24 May (APM) - Barcelona-based Almirall has seen sales of its controversial cannabis-containing drug Sativex rise above those of its best-known and most-commonly used medicine Almax, financial newspaper El Economista reported on Tuesday.
Almirall’s endocannabinoid system modulator Sativex is indicated as a treatment for patients with moderate to severe spasticity related to multiple sclerosis. Its sales soared 30% from a year ago to €7 million, similar to those of antiacid Almax.
At the presentation of the company’s Q1 results, Almirall representatives argued that Sativex’s performance is one of the reasons to trust the firm will do better in the future. Last year, it reported the worst sales in its history, with losses of €300 million at end-2017, El Economista noted.
Sativex was developed by U.S. GW Pharmaceuticals, which sells the drug there. It was acquired by Almirall and commercialised in 11 European countries, Denmark, Austria, Poland, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Island and Spain, where it was approved for reimbursement in 2010. The UK and Canada were the first countries to make it available. It is currently sold in 27 countries, the financial reported.
That said, El Economista added that the company is still experiencing difficulties regarding approval and reimbursement procedures for this drug. In Italy, a special agreement between the government and the manufacturer, including changes in importation laws, was needed in order to make the drug available, due to its cannabinoid component.
Sativex is manufactured in the UK, but the location of the premises is kept secret to avoid robbery, and transportation requires ‘camouflage’ for the same reason, according to El Economista.
Long pricing talks in Ireland and France mean lack of access to the drugs in these countries. In France, negotiations have been stalled since 2015, with the manufacturer proposing a price of €350 per package while healthcare authorities are unwilling to reimburse over €60, the newspaper said.

Procedures to start clinical trials accelerated

According to a story carried by financial Expansión on Monday, the time from application to approval to start clinical trials in Spain was reduced by 20% from 2016 to 2017, making the country the eighth fastest in Europe in terms of approval procedures.
The financial quoted information provided by branded pharma lobby group Farmaindustria as saying that 93.5% of clinical trials supported by pharmaceutical companies in Spain are international studies.
Over 10% of clinical trials supported by pharma are devoted to potential new treatments for rare diseases. Trials account for 58.6% of the cost of developing new medicines, which is why it is key to reduce bureaucracy while guaranteeing patients’ safety. This would reduce costs substantially, the financial noted.
According to the European Medicines Agency, each year 4,000 new clinical trials are given the green light in the continent, Expansión reported.

Report about social value of drugs

In a lengthy Friday story, daily ABC says new drugs have been one of the most relevant factors in the increase in life expectancy.
The newspaper quotes a report by Spanish branded pharma lobby Farmaindustria as saying that a number of studies show that new medicines contribute 73% to recent increases in life expectancy.
From 2000 to 2009, 1.74 years of life expectancy were gained in OECD countries. It has been reported that 1.27 of these are a direct consequence of pharmaceutical innovation, ABC says.
The story covers improvements in a dozen of different diseases, including cancer, noting that from 2011 to 2016, 68 new drugs to treat this disease were approved in more than 22 different indications.

Promising experimental combination in breast cancer

Spanish researchers have successfully treated rodents with an aggressive form of breast cancer by combining chemotherapy agents paclitaxel and docetaxel with drugs which inhibit p-38 alpha protein, daily El País reports on Friday.
Tumours were significantly reduced or even completely eliminated with this strategy in triple-negative breast cancer animal models. The results of this research have just been published in the journal Cancer Cell, El País adds.
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