Press review


Agreement on 3.6% wage increase for pharma in Germany

BERLIN, 21 Sep (APM) - The German Federation of Chemical Employers' Associations (BAVC) and pharma and chemicals industry union IG BCE have agreed on a 3.6% wage increase, reports Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) on Friday (p17).
In addition, annual holiday pay will be doubled to €1,200 euros for full-time employees from 2019. The new collective agreement will run for 15 months until autumn 2019.
The agreement amounts to a 4.6% average increase in income for all employees, said IG-BCE negotiator Ralf Sikorski. The doubling of holiday pay will much appreciated by workers, he added.
The agreement is "anything but cheap, but it fits in with the economic situation of the industry," said BAVC negotiator Georg Müller. It provides some flexibility for companies that are economically weak, he added.
IG BCE's demand that employees be able to convert part of the holiday pay into additional days off was not included because BAVC was concerned that this could exacerbate the shortage of skilled workers in the companies. Instead, a broader reform of working time rules is to be prepared by the next round of negotiations.

Bayer appeals glyphosate verdict

Bayer is appealing the August California jury award of $289 million to a man who claims glyphosate-based weedkiller manufactured by newly acquired Monsanto caused his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, FAZ (p22) and Handelsblatt (p19) wrote on Thursday.
Bayer has asked a California judge to set the verdict aside, reduce the award or set a new trial. A hearing for these motions has been set for 10 October. The company said the verdict was not supported by the evidence provided at the August trial.
Bayer is much more experienced than Monsanto in product safety lawsuits, Handelsblatt highlighted. As a pharmaceutical company in the U.S., Bayer is constantly involved in lawsuits, settlements and litigation, lately over its blood thinner Xarelto (rivaroxaban) and on contraceptive device Essure, it said.

Bayer faces investor confidence crisis

Bayer chief executive officer Werner Baumann is facing a crisis in investor confidence, writes monthly Manager Magazin on Friday (p15).
Baumann's arguments that a California jury award of $289 million was not scientifically based failed to convince investors. The group lost €21.5 billion value on the stock exchange between August and mid-September.
Even the group's pharmaceuticals business is faltering, the magazine said. The sales potential of best-seller Xarelto is questionable after two large studies aimed at opening up new fields of treatment for the anticoagulant failed to deliver the desired results, it added.
Xarelto's patent protection expires at the end of 2024 and it has no clear successor, the magazine said. The appointment of Stefan Oelrich at the head of the pharma division is also seen as a negative sign, since he will be "the fourth manager to head the division in six years".

Bayer must change leaflet for OTC stomach drops Iberogast

After a reported death in June, Bayer was forced to add a warning in the leaflet of its over-the-counter drug Iberogast about potential liver damage and a contraindication for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reported on Monday (p16).
SZ highlighted that Bayer had refused to change the leaflet for 10 years, although about 50 cases of liver damage were known to German regulator BfArM, SZ said.
Iberogast has been marketed by Bayer in more than 40 countries since 2013, when it bought manufacturer Steigerwald - which had also refused the change.

Bayer considers selling participation in chemical park operator

Bayer has commissioned U.S. bank Morgan Stanley for the potential sale of its 60% stake in chemical park operator Currenta, which operates three chemical parks in Germany, reported FAZ on Tuesday (p20).
Currenta could be valued at more than €1 billion, sources told Thomson Reuters.

'Human' pharmas not convinced by Lysando's potential bacteria killer

Biotech Lysando, which has developed antimicrobial protein artilysin as a bacteria killer, cannot find a partnership for the development in human pharma, chief executive officer Markus Matuschka von Greiffenclau told Handelsblatt on Monday (p44-45).
According to Matuschka, legal uncertainties are seen as too great and pharma companies marketing antibiotics do not want to fund an innovative approach that would potentially kill their core business.
Matuschka now hopes to obtain a grant from the German ministry of education and research for an artilysin research project carried out by Lysando, the Institute for medical microbiology and hospital hygiene and Frankfurt university hospital's unit for trauma, hand and reconstructive surgery.

Share buybacks block investment in U.S. pharma research

If U.S. pharma companies fail to invest in R&D now, they will lack innovation when a technological leap forward is needed to compete on the market, Die Welt wrote on Sunday (p46).
A study by the Institute for New Economic Thinking said that pharma companies have been spending less money on R&D than on share buybacks to maximise shareholder value, and expressed concerns that this could be a problem when a future recession causes their share price to fall sharply.
35% of U.S. companies' profit has come from buying their own shares in 2018, and they will have spent about $1 trillion on this by the end of the year, Die Welt said.

European health commissioner wants easier-to-read package inserts

EU commissioner for health and food safety Vytenis Andriukaitis wants bigger font sizes and line spacings and clearer texts for leaflets inserted in drug packages so that these are easier to read and understand, he said in an interview with Die Welt on Tuesday (p7).
These changes in regulation should include an obligatory text box presenting the most important facts in a way that is understandable by non-experts, as well as understandable translations of the inserts.
Patients should be involved in creation and testing of product inserts, Andriukaitis told Die Welt.

Teva shares rise after U.S. approval of migraine drug

Shares of Teva rose over 5% to $24 in after-hours trading in the U.S. last Friday after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved migraine treatment Ajovy (fremanezumab-vfrm) (APMHE 59717), FAZ reported on Monday.
Ajovy is seen as a key drug for Teva's economic recovery.
It will be available a €575 dollars a month, which is a similar price to Amgen/Novartis rival drug Aimovig (erenumab), which was approved in the U.S. in May.

Oxfam accuses pharma companies of tax avoidance

Oxfam has accused American pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Merck & Co, Johnson & Johnson and Abbott of avoiding paying $3.8 billion in tax annually in 16 countries from 2013 to 2015, reported FAZ on Tuesday (p17) (APMHE 59744).



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