Press review

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Bayer goes into 'attack mode' over weedkiller cancer risk

Country : China, Germany, U.S., UK

Keywords :
BERLIN, 24 Aug (APM) - Bayer's chief executive expressed confidence in the company's chances of winning the legal disputes regarding weed killer glyphosate's cancer risk on Thursday, report Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) (p22), Handelsblatt (p44-51) and Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) (p20) on Friday.
In a conference call (APMHE 59423) and in an interview with Handelsblatt, Werner Bauman called a recent California verdict "in contradiction with existing scientific findings, decades of practical experience and the assessments of regulatory authorities. There is no reason to become nervous," he told Handelsblatt.
Beyond the legal disputes, Bayer now intends to begin the integration of Monsanto "with great enthusiasm", Baumann said. A detailed strategy for the agricultural division will be presented at the half-year results on 5 September and at a Capital Markets Day in December.
However, papers pointed out that the legal threat posed to Bayer Group is growing as 8,000 glyphosate lawsuits had been filed against Monsanto, the U.S. agricultural group just acquired by Bayer, by the end of July, compared with 5,200 lawsuits in April.
Monsanto was hit earlier this month with $289 million in damages after a jury in San Francisco ruled that a former school ground keeper's terminal cancer had been caused by glyphosate (APMHE 59300)
In an interview with weekly Der Spiegel (p65) on Saturday and then with FAZ on Wednesday (p22), Dwayne Johnsons' lawyer Brent Wisner - who handles 800 other cases - said that many lawsuits are still to come. He pointed out that 20 studies were conducted on glyphosate and cancer and that "almost all" showed a risk.
Bayer has lived its 'black week' after its share price fell by 18% in the days after a jury in San Francisco granted the $289 million damages to Johnson, reported FAZ on Saturday (p) and Die Welt (p35) and FAZ (p8 and 28) on Sunday.

UK pharma companies build up stocks in case of no-Brexit deal

Die Welt carries a headline on Friday (p 9) that UK pharma companies have had to build stockpiles of drugs to cope with potential supply disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The government issued warnings on Thursday related to the potential failure of the ongoing negotiations with the European Union, report Die Welt and SZ on Friday (p1) (APMHE 59420).
Drugs tested in the EU will be available without further controls to prevent shortages, the government said. Pharma companies and authorities are cooperating to provide stocks on hand for at least six weeks, Die Welt said.
According to FAZ on Friday (p 1 and 17) UK Brexit minister Dominic Raab described fears as exaggerated that supply shortfalls may occur in medicines or in the 30% of food products that are imported from the EU.

Big pharma investments in big data make up for industry's lapse in digitisation

Big pharma companies worldwide are taking action to use big data for different research strategies, Handelsblatt reported on Tuesday (p14-15).
McKinsey experts estimate the financial potential of the digital technologies and big data to a "$100 billion opportunity" for the pharma business.
Research and development could profit from big data by a growth on the return on investment, Handelsblatt said. During the 1990s, the sales of new drugs were triple their research investments. Today, the factor is 1.1, according to a McKinsey study.
The application varies considerably with different pharma companies. Sanofi uses artificial intelligence for routine activities during research; AbbVie is building up algorithms to access and analyse research results and provide "Spotify for specialist literature"; and Boehringer sees in the integration of real-world patient data through wearables and smart phones the most sustainable effect of digitisation.

China ahead in pharma and chemical R&D

Research and development activities in the pharmaceutical and chemical sector are increasingly shifting to Asia, according to the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI), reported FAZ on Wednesday (p19).
China's share in internationally registered patents in chemistry and pharmacy has risen from less than 2% to almost 10% from 2015 to 2016, VCI said.
This rise is a consequence of tax incentives for R&D introduced by the Chinese government, said VCI, which calls for a similar measure in Germany.
The German government is expected to present a bill on tax incentives for medium-sized companies in September, VCI said.

German doctors fight for reimbursement of smoking cessation treatments

German anti-smoking association is joining forces with doctor Ulf Ratje to fight in court for the reimbursement of smoking cessation treatments, reported FAZ on Wednesday (p29).
The Action Group for tobacco cessation (WAT) launched an action for "equal treatment" of tobacco addiction while Ratje and German Society for Nicotine and Tobacco Research support patients claiming reimbursement, the paper said.
After being defeated in local courts, activists want to go the federal social court.
Smoking cessation treatments, including patches, gums or tablets, are considered as life-style products and therefore are not covered by the statutory health insurance in Germany.

Evotec cooperates with Novo Nordisk on diabetes and obesity

Biotech Evotec and Novo Nordisk have signed an agreement to develop new drugs for treating diabetes and obesity, FAZ reported on Thursday (p21).
The two companies did not disclose financial details.

Brandenburg health minister blames lack of information in Lunapharm case

Brandenburg health minister Diana Golze blamed the head of health local authority for not forwarding her information on stolen cancer drugs sold by importer Lunapharm, FAZ reported on Thursday (p1 and 4).
The president of the regional health authority Detlev Mohr learned of the investigation against Lunapharm in the spring of 2017, but did not withdrawn its operating licence and did not inform her, Golze said.
The case became known in July after the German public accused regulatory authorities of failing to properly monitor wholesalers and to inform patients.
The inquiry, started in Brandenburg, has now extended to the Frankfurt area where two former business partners of Lunapharm are now accused of commercial fencing and violation of the Medicines Act.

Almost 50,000 deaths related to overdose of synthetic opioids

Almost 50,000 of 72,000 deaths due to drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2017 were because of synthetic opioids, SZ said on Monday (p 2).
Fentanyl alone caused 30,000 deaths, a 10% increase compared with 2016, according to the newest numbers provided by the U.S. centres for Disease Control (CDC).
Deaths have been reported even by the use of pain relief patches, CDC said.
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