Press review

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German pharma vulnerable to trade war

BERLIN, 13 July (APM) - German pharma companies are among the listed German groups that are vulnerable to trade war effects due to their high proportion of exports, according to a survey by PwC, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reports on Friday (p25).
The 7% sales growth in 2017 generated by German groups listed on the DAX is mainly due to their international activities as domestic market growth was very limited, at 2%, PwC said.
Fresenius Medical Care generated 98% of sales abroad, Merck KGaA 94%, Bayer 90% and Fresenius 79%. U.S. sales accounted for 44% of Fresenius's turnover, 25% of Bayer's and 24% of that of Merck KGaA.
"Against this background, the current conflicts surrounding punitive tariffs and an impending global trade dispute are extremely worrying," said Peter Bartels, managing director at PwC.

Germany's BioNTech partners with Switzerland's Genevant

German biotech BioNTech has partnered up with Switerzerland's Genevant on the development of five mRNA therapeutic programmes for rare diseases, FAZ reported on Wednesday (p21)
The companies have also agreed exclusive licences for the application of Genevant’s lipid nanoparticle delivery technology to five of BioNTech’s oncology programmes.
The first product is expected to enter the clinical study phase by 2020.

Lantus decline hits Frankfurt's local business tax

The decline in sales of Sanofi's diabetes drug Lantus has hit the city of Frankfurt's budget, reported FAZ on Thursday (p23 and 39).
Following patent expiry on Lantus and a sharp drop in sales, the local business tax is "around half" of the €400 million paid in 2015, Sanofi told FAZ.
Sanofi Germany's sales in 2017 - more than €4.7 billion - were about as high as in 2016, but the product mix contains more low-margin drugs.

German pharmacist sentenced to 12 years jail for cancer drug fraud

A German community pharmacist has been sentenced to 12 years of jail for a massive fraud on individual cancer preparations, reported FAZ (p1 and 8), Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) (p10) and Die Welt (p12) on Saturday.
The pharmacist, located the Rhine city of of Bottrop, was found guilty of under-dosing or diluting about 14,500 individual cytostatic preparations for cancer patients between 2012 and 2016 and embezzling around €17 million from health insurance companies.
The pharmacy was one of the 300 specialised centres in Germany that deliver cytostatic preparations to oncologists.

Brexit may endanger drug supply

UK's departure from the European Union may endanger the drug supply, reported Die Welt on Saturday (p12).
Around 3,200 drugs centrally authorised in UK may no longer be able to be sold in the remaining 27 EU countries if manufacturers have not switched approvals to another EU country, the paper said.
According to Elmar Kroth, an expert at German pharma lobby BAK, only 15% of approvals have been switched. "We still have 85% of the work to be done in the next nine months," he told Die Welt.
Among the 470 procedures already switched, 178 approvals have been transferred to Germany, Die Welt said.

Massive valsartan drugs recall

At least 15 manufacturers are affected by the recall of valsartan-containing drugs in Germany, FAZ reported on Wednesday (p21).
Following a safety issue in manufacturing by a Chinese supplier, the recall is one of the largest in recent years, the paper said.
Wholesaler Gehe reported that it had put "more than 15,000 packages in quarantine". Gehe cited the global concentration of active ingredient production as the main reason for the crisis (APMHE 58888).

Pharma companies must renew strategy

Pharma companies must renew their strategy and make a big move towards digitalisation to maintain their strength, reported SZ (p17) and FAZ (p23) on Tuesday (APMHE 58865).
Judging by 2017 sales growth, the pharmaceutical industry is "still doing very, very well", but it needs to focus more on digitisation, according to Siegfried Bialoyan from consulting firm EY.
In order to be competitive in the growing trend of individualised medicine, pharma companies should build up digital platforms to be able to find the best individual therapy based on a patient's data, EY experts said.

Eisai and Biogen shares rise on positive Alzheimer's study

The share price of Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai rose by 16.3% to an all-time high on Monday and those of Biogen rose by 20% after positive results for BAN2401 developed in Alzheimer's disease, reported Handelsblatt on Tuesday (p36) and SZ on Thursday (p19)
Eisai and Biogen announced positive results for patients receiving the highest dose of BAN2401 in a clinical trial in early Alzheimer's disease (APMHE 58820).
However, Biogen remained cautious, saying there is no guarantee yet that the drug will be approved, SZ said.

Pfizer postpones price increase after Trump's attack

Pfizer has postponed price increases initially implemented on 1 July after U.S. President Donald Trump attacked the pharma industry's pricing policy, FAZ (p22) and SZ (p19) reported on Thursday (APMHE 58872).
The increase will only take effect when Trump's drug plan is in force or by the end of 2018 at the latest, Pfizer said
As Pfizer and other U.S. pharma companies raised prices on some of their drugs on 1 July, Trump said on Twitter that his administration would respond, reported SZ (p21) and FAZ (p24) on Wednesday (APMHE 58856).
Trump has made it a habit to attack individual companies and industries on Twitter, in particular the pharmaceutical industry for what he considers to be excessive prices, FAZ said.

New structure for Pfizer

Pfizer will restructure company into three businesses - for off-patent drugs, innovative products and consumer health, reported Die Welt (p9) and SZ (p19) on Thursday (APMHE 58882).
The consumer health division, which Pfizer has been planning to sell since last year, will operate largely independently, with dedicated manufacturing and regulatory capabilities, SZ said.

Ethical concerns over 'late' pharma payments to FDA advisers

U.S. Science magazine has raised ethical concerns over payments made by pharma companies to external experts from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after they have voted on drugs, SZ reported on Monday (p16) (APMHE 58845).
Science said that of 107 physician advisers who voted, 40 had received more than $10,000 in post hoc earnings or research support from the makers of drugs that the panels voted to approve, or from competing firms, over a nearly four-year period.
These late payments are not monitored by the FDA, Science said.

Combination of drugs and food additives active against multi-resistant bacteria

A combination of antibiotics, other drugs and food additives may be active against multi-resistant bacteria, according to research led by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, reported Die Welt on Monday (p20).
Out of 3,000 combinations tested on three types of bacteria, more than 500 pairings showed an increased effect of the antibiotic.
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