Press review

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French Senate publishes report on tackling drug shortages

PARIS, 5 Oct (APM) - Les Echoes (p.22) reported on Wednesday that the Senate has published a report with 30 proposals on how to tackle the ever-growing number of drug shortages in France.
L’Humanité (p.9) and Le Monde Science et Médecine (p.2) also published articles on Wednesday revealing that the report suggests offering tax breaks for pharmaceutical companies that manufacture their main active ingredients in France and calling on the central army pharmacy set up "a public programme to produce and distribute essential drugs affected by marketing cessation", adding that such a programme is already in place in Switzerland (APMHE 59986).

Bureaucracy stops French patients accessing innovative treatment

Le Monde Idées (p.7) published a piece on Monday in which doctors deplored that the French healthcare system “no longer assures patients rapid and fair access to the most innovative drugs”.
They said it takes too long to evaluate and set prices for new drugs: “over 400 days on average, while 180 is the European average.” They pointed out that France is no longer the European leader in the healthcare industry, with only six of the 91 new drugs approved by the European Medicines Agency in 2017 produced there.
Finally, they lamented the lack of expertise in drug evaluation. They urged the French ministry of health to implement a “new deal” instead of continuing the current system which “only benefits the bureaucracy.”

'Four areas to watch out for' after social security funding bill

Liberation wrote an article on Tuesday (p.19) listing the four medicines-related areas to watch out for this autumn following the social security funding bill (PLFSS).
France’s health technology assessment body HAS has decided to evaluate homeopathy products in a more traditional way.
On vaccines, the paper said pharmacists will now be able to administer the flu jab across France.
The PLFSS also mentioned generics, and the fact that patients who refuse a generic in favour of the branded drug without justification will be not be fully reimbursed from 2020. The PLFSS also tackles the “non-substitutable” note on prescriptions (APMHE 59880).
The final area to watch out for concerns Merck KGaA's thyroid drug Levothyrox, with a victim's lawyer asking for the authorisation file for the controversial new formula and accusing regulator ANSM of hiding certain elements for commercial reasons (APMHE 59970)

Patient petition launched against trade secrets in Merck & Co’s Levothyrox affair

An association of patients with thyroid illnesses has launched a petition denouncing France’s drug regulator ANSM for its role in the affair surrounding Merck’s Levothyrox, reported Le Monde on Monday (p.8). The petition is addressed to France’s health minister Agnès Buzyn.
The petition reproaches ANSM for using the “very recent and very controversial” law from 30 July, dubbed the trade secrets law, to justify covering up where Levothyrox’s active ingredient was made, and the company that made it.

Unjustifiable drug prices profit shareholders

Three professors said the pharma industry is one of the most profitable for shareholders in Le Monde Idées (p.7) on Monday. They mentioned the progress made in creating new targeted innovative therapies to treat cancer and the “exorbitant prices” that went with them.
The authors say most drugs now cost more than $120,000 per patient per year, compared to $10,000 20 years ago.
The article goes on to state that it seems that people’s illnesses, mostly paid for by the public, generate the best returns for shareholders.

Figures published on savings to be made in social security funding bill

Le Figaro reported on Wednesday (p.22) that the French finance ministry has published the economic, social and finance report detailing where the €3.8 billion of savings to be made in 2019 are going to come from (APMHE 59977).

Community care spend needs managing, says national audit office

France’s national audit office is wary about the community care spend, Le Figaro reports on Friday (p.22).
Stating that the country’s national target for health insurance expenditure Ondam has only been met because “the hospital care spend has decreased”, it recommends managing the community care spend, including on drugs.

Leo Pharma’s Kyntheum reimbursed in France

Leo’s Kyntheum for psoriasis has been approved in France, and the company has a drug for eczema in the pipeline (APMHE 59965).
The Danish pharma is “taking on” pharma giants Sanofi, Novartis and Lilly in serious dermatological diseases, Les Echos reports on Friday (p.23).

Nobel medicine prize award for immunology research

Liberation (p.15) in a brief on Tuesday announced that two researchers, Tasuku Honjo from Japan and James Allison from the U.S., have been awarded the Nobel prize for Medicine for their research in immunology, which is now in vogue in the field of cancerology.
Le Figaro (p.14) on Tuesday also reported on the event, going into detail about how the researchers’ discoveries have changed cancer treatment. An article about the researchers also appeared in La Croix on Tuesday (p.9), with the paper highlighting the “revolutionary” aspect of their research which gives new hope to patients with aggressive diseases such as lung or skin cancers.
The news also appeared in a brief in Le Parisien on Tuesday (p.18), which mentions that immunology is on the rise “and has promising results”.
L’Humanité, also on Tuesday (p.2) wrote a brief about the two men, quoting a French national medical research institute researcher regarding their feat: “it is good news for everyone, especially for patients. It is a revolution, equivalent to the [discovery] of antibiotics”.
Le Monde Science et médecine reported on the event on Wednesday (p.2) stating that “their work had led to the development of drugs that save the lives of patients with cancers that were previously through to be incurable” (APMHE 59948).

Pfizer head steps down

Le Figaro reported in a brief on Tuesday (p.26) that Pfizer CEO Ian Read would step down after eight years. Chief operating office Dr Albert Bourla is set to take over in 2019.

Sanofi has cancer treatment approved by FDA for first time in six years

Les Echos reported on Tuesday (p.21) that Sanofi had a cancer treatment, Libtayo (cemiplimab), approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the first time in six years.
Libtayo is an immunotherapy for the treatment of metastatic cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC) (APMHE 59932).

Diabetes drug may help depression

The free daily newspaper 20 minutes reported in a brief on Wednesday (p.7) that French scientists have discovered that AdipoRon, a diabetes drug, may play a role in treating depression.
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