MILAN, 15 June (APM) - Italian pharma is looking to have an open and positive relationship with the country's new health minister, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Thursday.
Speaking at a conference on prevention and innovation in medicine, the head of Farmindustria, Massimo Scaccabarozzi, expressed hopes that they can work together effectively. “The new government has declared itself to be a government of change, putting patients at the centre of attention. It is in our interest to work in this direction too,” he is reported to have said.
He commented on the possible attitude of the new health minister, Giulia Grillo, towards business. “Many have told me that there will be a lot of prejudice and anti-industrial positions. But I do not believe it. When you find yourself managing such an important department, you know that you have to do things right for the sake of public health. We are ready for a transparent dialogue,” he said
Scaccabarozzi referred to criticism of the pharma industry in what may have been an oblique reference to an interview with veteran pharmacologist Silvio Garattini published by the same paper on Wednesday (see below). “I know that some people, even some scientists, talk a lot about the fact that there is no innovation and there are no new drugs,” he said.
“But if deaths from cardiovascular disease have been reduced by 30% in 10 years and two out of three people with a diagnosis of cancer survive after five years, it means that there has been progress from innovation as well,” he continued.
Italy should only reimburse new drugs which are better - expert
Italy should only reimburse drugs which are shown to be better than what is already available, veteran pharmacologist Silvio Garattini told Il Sole 24 Ore in an interview published on Wednesday.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) only decides about the quality, efficacy and safety of new drugs. It says nothing about whether they are better than existing therapies or are less toxic or more effective treatments, the expert said.
Garattini, who has previously served on committees at both the EMA and Italian medicines agency AIFA, noted the French magazine Prescire’s conclusion that around 70% of drugs approved by the EMA in the past 10 years have offered nothing new. “So the innovation is very poor,” he said.
Garattini insisted that Italy should not pay for drugs unless they offer something more. He said: “AIFA should carry out its assessment and, in the absence of comparative studies, should wait until these studies are available before using the drug”.
However, he stressed that drugs which have clear evidence of efficacy should be approved immediately. “There was little discussion about the drugs for the eradication of hepatitis C because the results were very convincing. But for oncology [drugs] a lot more testing needs to be done,” he said.
Milan’s new life sciences centre looking to attract companies
Milan’s new life sciences centre is looking to attract companies to help develop new personalised treatments and predictive medicine, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Wednesday.
The Human Technopole, which is being built on the site where the Milan Expo was held in 2015, has started hiring scientists and staff to manage it.
Marco Simoni, the centre’s president, said some companies have already been in touch enquiring about having offices inside the campus. The aim is to have them not only provide support for R&D but also become partners in the life sciences centre itself.
“There are already some innovative drugs and therapies, but the whole new frontier of personalised care and predictive medicine must be developed, especially for tumours and neurodegenerative diseases,” Simoni told the paper.
Immunotherapy improves survival for bladder, kidney cancer patients
Immunotherapy has been demonstrated to significantly improve treatment of bladder and kidney cancer, a urology expert wrote in Monday’s Corriere della Sera.
Francesco Montorsi from Milan’s San Raffaele hospital attended the recent ASCO meeting in San Francisco. Data presented there showed that survival for bladder cancer patients treated with immunotherapy after a year was 44% compared to 30% for chemotherapy. At two years, it was 27% compared to 14%.
For metastatic kidney cancer, the results with immunotherapy have been even better, with 60% of patients still alive after three years, the urologist said. After an early diagnosis of kidney cancer, surgery combined with immunotherapy has become the standard treatment.
Recordati buys food supplements unit to boost OTC range
Recordati has bought Natural Point, a food supplements business with €15 million sales, to boost its over-the-counter range, according to Monday’s Milano Finanza.
“The acquisition of Natural Point represents a good opportunity to enhance our portfolio in the Italian self-medication market with well-known brands and good market shares,” the group’s CEO Andrea Recordati was reported as saying.