Press review

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UK's May to give NHS £4bn-a-year boost, partly funded by Brexit dividend

LONDON, 15 June (APM) - UK prime minister Theresa May is set to give the NHS a £4 billion-a-year boost as part of promised long-term funding plans, the Daily Telegraph reported on Thursday.
On Monday, May is expected to announce that she will boost NHS funding by around 3% a year as part of a "multi-year" settlement to mark its 70th anniversary, the paper said, noting it will funded by borrowing, income tax and a Brexit dividend.
The Brexit dividend was one of the pledges of 'Leave' campaigners in the build-up to the UK's referendum which eventually decided the UK would leave the EU.
The news follows promises last week from UK health secretary Jeremy Hunt in The Guardian that May would offer a "significant increase" in the NHS budget, and that the government recognises the short-term emergency cash injections currently used for the NHS are not viable (APMHE 58443).

AstraZeneca and Lilly scrap Alzheimer’s BACE inhibitor

AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly announced they would stop development of their partnered Alzheimer's disease programme for oral beta secretase cleaving enzyme (BACE) inhibitor lanabecestat, after deciding that efficacy in early forms of the disease was lacking (APMHE 58474).
On Tuesday, the FT and the Telegraph reported that an independent monitoring committee found the treatment was unlikely to meet its goal, and the pharma firms chose to halt the two large trials of the drug.
Tuesday’s news represents a fresh blow to the group of drugs known as BACE inhibitors, the paper wrote, noting that Johnson & Johnson in May had scrapped a trial of another BACE inhibitor due to safety concerns.

UK trade deficit grows, dropping drug exports a contributor

The UK's manufacturing output has fallen at its fastest pace in more than five years and the trade deficit has grown, The Times said on Monday, noting that a sharp drop in drug exports is contributing to the trend.
Quoting the Office for National Statistics (ONS), The Times marked weaker demand for manufacturing in general in April and said the figures add to fears over the strength of Britain's economy.
The ONS figures revealed that a sharp drop in exports of drugs, machinery and aircraft also widened the trade deficit — the gap between what Britain imports and exports — by £1.9 billion to £9.7 billion, the paper said. Total exports of goods fell by £3.1 billion in April, and services slipped by £2.5 billion.
“Falling volumes was the main reason for the declines in exports of machinery, pharmaceuticals and aircraft in the three months to April 2018 as price movements were relatively small,” the paper quoted the ONS as saying.

UK manufacturing sectors 'at risk of extinction'

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, The Guardian quoted the Confederation of British Industry as saying parts of UK manufacturing are at risk of extinction.
The paper said the organisation's president Paul Drechsler was speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, where he warned: “If we do not have a customs union, there are sectors of manufacturing society in the UK which risk becoming extinct".
He said continued uncertainty over the Brexit deal, which is due to be delivered in the autumn, was putting off potential investors who were going elsewhere.
Drechsler added: “We already know tens of millions, in fact hundreds of millions, have been invested by UK pharmaceutical and finance companies to create continuity post a worse-case Brexit scenario. Tens of millions. What could we have done with that money?”

HIV boost for GSK

An innovative treatment for GlaxoSmithKline, which uses two drugs instead of the normal three, has proved effective in a major trial, in a big boost to ViiV Healthcare, a division of GSK, the FT reported on Thursday. (APMHE 58509)
The trial, called Gemini, could significantly enlarge GSK's share of the $20 billion-a-year market for HIV, with analysts predicting sales of at least £1.1 billion annually by 2025.

Gene-editing companies hit by reports of raised cancer risk

Investors dropped shares in companies developing a novel gene editing technology known as CRISPR-Cas9 following the publication of two studies suggesting the technique could increase a patient’s risk of developing cancer, the FT said on Monday.
The CRISPR-Cas9 process involves editing a person’s DNA with a pair of "genetic scissors", the FT said, noting it is believed to have potential in a long list of life-threatening diseases.
However, two scientific papers published on Monday warned the technique could cause cancer, it said.
Stocks of companies developing the treatment tumbled following the studies' publication, the FT added, citing CRISPR Therapeutics losing 13% and a 7.6% loss each for Editas and Intellia.

Kyoto to build regenerative medicine hub

Kyoto, Japan, has opened a regenerative medicines hub as part of a goal to become the non-U.S. equivalent of Silicon Valley in the field, according to the FT on Monday (APMHE 58479)
The Innovation Hub Kyoto has opened at the university’s graduate school of medicine, between a teaching hospital and long-term care units, and will host start-up companies looking to gain a foothold.
It quoted Yutaka Teranishi, who leads the Innovation Hub Kyoto, as saying Japan has been reluctant to treat its research ambitions as global projects, which has held academia back from investing in facilities like this previously. He added that funding raised by just over 1,100 start-ups in 2017 was ¥280bn ($2.6 billion).
“Since the advance of medical science absolutely must be global, we are building this centre on the assumption that we must deepen international co-operation,” Teranishi said.

Scotland' okays Novartis' cancer drug Rydapt for NHS use

Novartis' Rydapt (midostaurin) has been approved by Scotland's health evaluator for use on the NHS in acute myeloid leukamia, The Times reported on Tuesday (APMHE 58485).
The drug improved survival rates in more than half of patients who took part in a trial, compared with 44% of patients who had chemotherapy alone, the paper said. It has also been approved by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) for use as a “maintenance treatment” after patients have finished intensive chemotherapy; this has been shown to reduce the risk of relapse.
Alasdair Rankin, director of research and patient experience at cancer charity Bloodwise, said yesterday: “Today’s announcement is hugely positive news for people in Scotland who are diagnosed with this particular type of [leukaemia]. Midostaurin has been shown to have minimal side effects and offers the reassurance to patients that everything possible is being done to reduce their chances of the disease coming back.”

Celgene admits ozanimod FDA filing was below par

Celgene has admitted its rejected U.S. FDA filing for ozanimod in multiple sclerosis was below its usual standards, the FT said on Wednesday (APMHE 58522).
The FDA issued a 'refusal to file' letter to Celgene regarding the drug application in February this year, saying that the nonclinical and clinical pharmacology sections in the filing were insufficient to permit a complete review.
Nadim Ahmed, president of haemotology and oncology at Celgene, told the FT that FDA officials were surprised by the subpar application.
He said: “[The FDA] kinda said ‘what happened guys, this isn’t what we usually expect from Celgene? And we had to say, you know, ‘mea culpa, it’s on us’.”
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