Press review

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Bayer needs to strengthen its pharma pipeline

Country : Germany, Switzerland

Keywords :
BERLIN, 25 May (APM) - Bayer needs to strengthen its pipeline to secure its pharmaceuticals business in the long term, Handelsblatt writes on Friday (p20-23) in an in-depth analysis of the company's balance sheet.
It remains unclear whether the Bayer pharmaceuticals division's pipeline is strong enough to absorb patent expirations of its current best-sellers over the next decade, the paper writes.
Bayer should seek to replicate the deal made with Loxo oncology on TRK inhibitor larotrectinib in November 2017 in order to add new promising compounds in late-state development to its portfolio, Handelsblatt said. Bayer's pharmaceuticals division is currently the group's driving force.
The consumer health division is Bayer's biggest problem, the paper continues. Division head Erica Mann was replaced by Heiko Schipper in March in order to find solutions. It is now clear that the €10 billion Bayer spent on Merck & Co's over-the-counter (OTC) products in 2014 was too much in light of their continuous declining sales, the paper said.

AstraZeneca posts disappointing Q1 results

AstraZeneca lagged far behind market expectations with its first quarter results, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) wrote on Saturday (p27) (APMHE 58149).
Operating profit was almost halved to $896 million in the first three months of the year and sales were down 4% to $5.2 billion, or as much as -9% after adjustment for currency effects.
AstraZeneca explained the weak figures mainly by the continued erosion of lipid-lowerer Crestor (rosuvastatin calcium) in Europe and Japan. However, it pointed out that the business developed well in China and in the distribution of newer drugs.

Fresenius shareholders worried about potential cost of abandoned Akorn takeover

Fresenius' shareholders expressed concerns about the potential cost of the abandoned Akorn takeover at the General assembly on 18 May, reported FAZ (p26) and Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) on Saturday (p26).
Representatives of private investors DSW and institutional private investors VIP said that uncertainty was high regarding the outcome of the lawsuit filed by Akorn with a court in the U.S. state of Delaware.

Shortage of antihypertensive methyldopa worries pregnant women

Shortages of antihypertensive drug methyldopa in Germany are worrying for pregnant women with hypertension, FAZ wrote on Saturday (p8).
Methyldopa is the preferred antihypertensive drug during pregnancy because other medicines for this indication either carry serious risks for the foetus or have been insufficiently studied in pregnant women.
Information on shortages for one manufacturer came to light only in late January, and other companies did not have time to ramp up their production, SZ said. Chepla-Pharma and Stada told SZ that their products will be back on the German market by mid-June or at the beginning of July.

Ex-Boehringer CFO taking her time to find new job

Boehringer Ingelheim's former chief finance officer (CFO) Simone Menne is taking her time to find a new job, SZ reported on Tuesday (p15).
Menne turned down several offers for CFO positions, and according to SZ she is looking for a CEO position, even in a medium-sized company.
After a year in the position, Menne left Boehringer on good terms, she told SZ. She did not see eye to eye with CEO Hubertus von Baumbach and is now relieved to be setting her own agenda.

Swiss NGO demands lower cancer drug prices from Roche and Novartis

Swiss non-governmental organisation Public Eye has launched a public initiative to obtain lower cancer drug prices from Roche and Novartis, SZ reported on Wednesday (p17) (APMHE 58195).
Public Eye has called on the Swiss government to use compulsory licensing to fight against costly drugs, especially in oncology. The Swiss Cancer League is actively participating in the campaign, SZ said.

Positive results expected at ASCO

Major pharmaceutical companies and smaller biotechs have announced positive preliminary results for several cancer drugs ahead of major cancer conference ASCO, which takes place in Chicago at the beginning of June, FAZ reported on Tuesday (p23).
After Merck KGaA announced preliminary data from early and mid-stage studies on seven active ingredients and eight tumour types, the company's shares rose briefly by almost 3% to €83.20 on Thursday, giving it the best daily performance in the German DAX index.
Roche will present data on immunotherapy Tecentriq in combination with other therapies for lung cancer. Data are also expected on promising CAR-T therapies from several companies, including Novartis and Munich-based biotech Medigene, FAZ said.

Health minister resists pressure on mail order pharmacies ban

German health ministry Jens Spahn is taking his time to move forward on the ban of prescription drug sales by mail order pharmacies, resisting pressure from members of his CDU party to act quickly, wrote Handelsblatt on Tuesday (p12).
The CDU insisted on including the prohibition of sales of prescription drugs by mail order pharmacies in the ruling coalition's programme, but Spahn is sceptical about its feasibility under European competition law.
CDU health policy spokeswoman Karin Maag has urged Spahn to start drafting a legally binding ban, the paper wrote. The notification procedure with the EU is expected to be time-consuming and in the meantime, rural pharmacies may face tougher competition from mail order pharmacies, she told Handelsblatt.
"The current situation is completely unsatisfactory," MP and CDU drug expert Michael Hennrich told the newspaper.
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