Press review


New law cuts health insurance contributions for German employees

Country : Europe, Germany, Switzerland, U.S., UK, Japan

Keywords :
BERLIN, 19 Oct (APM) - A new law passed by the German parliament on Thursday will decrease statutory health insurance contributions for employees, report Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) (p8) and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) (p19) on Friday.
Health minister Jens Spahn (CDU) is quoted as saying that under this law, 56 million insurees will pay €8 billion less in the long term, €6.9 billion of which will be because employers' contributions will be the same amount as what employees pay themselves from 2019 on.
The assessment base for freelance and self-employed people who do not have a large income will be cut considerably, reducing their contributions by more than 50%, according to FAZ.

Fresenius shares plunge on softer earnings guidance

The announcement of softer earnings guidance for Fresenius sent its shares plummeting on Wednesday, reported Handelsblatt (p21), FAZ (p30), SZ (p29) and Die Welt (p17) on Thursday.
Shares for dialysis care division Fresenius Medical Care, the business most affected by the revised guidance, plunged by 17% to €71.58, the biggest drop in its history, while shares of Fresenius group also lost 8% to €62.82.
The injectable generic drugs division Kabi is the only Fresenius business for which the company upgraded its 2018 guidance (APMHE 60189).

MorphoSys closer to operative business

German biotech MorphoSys is getting closer to its goal of marketing its own drugs, wrote Handelsblatt on Thursday (p44).
The most advanced candidate is blood cancer drug MOR208, which could be launched on the market in 2020 (APMHE 57987).
MorphoSys, founded 26 years ago, wants to develop its own products in cancer and immunology, possibly by taking partners on board, said CEO and founder Simon Moroney.
MorphoSys has €450 million cash reserves thanks to its IPO on the Nasdaq index in April, revenues from Tremfya (guselkumab), licensed to Johnson & Johnson, and first payments for an eczema drug licensed to Novartis (APMHE 58978).

18% discount for Amgen's Humira biosimilar Amgevita

Amgen is launching its Humira (adalimumab) biosimilar Amgevita in Germany with an 18% discount, business paper Handelsblatt reports on Friday (p22-23). (APMHE 60232)
With a discount of 40% on the retail price of the reference drug, Biogen's biosimilar Imraldi has the most competitive discount among the biosimilars (APMHE 60190), followed by Sandoz's product with 21% (APMHE 60204) and Amgevita, Handelsblatt reports.

Merck KGaA invests in new packaging centre

Merck KGaA on Wednesday inaugurated a new packaging centre for tablets at its headquarters in Darmstadt, in which it has invested €83 million, reported FAZ on Wednesday (p27).
The first two of eight packaging lines will go into operation in February 2019. The new facilities will gradually replace the old building by the end of 2020. This is part of a larger investment of around €1 billion in Darmstadt by 2020 .

Takeda gets OK to acquire Shire

Japanese competition watchdogs cleared Takeda’s acquisition of Shire on Thursday after U.S., Brazilian, and Chinese authorities had already agreed to it, FAZ reports on Friday (p22).
The $62 billion deal (APMHE 59160) would be the biggest acquisition ever for a Japanese company abroad and would make Takeda one of the leading manufacturers of cancer, haemophilia, neurological and gastroenterology drugs, FAZ writes.

AstraZeneca warns against post-Brexit drug shortages

AstraZeneca chair Leif Johansson warned against potential drug shortages after Brexit, FAZ reported on Tuesday (p22).
AstraZeneca is unable to ensure separate batch release testing for its cancer drug Zoladex (goserelin), which is manufactured in the UK, in the European Union and cannot store the drug in continental Europe for many months in advance because it has a limited shelf life, Johansson told FAZ (APMHE 60141).

J&J 'surprisingly strong' in Q3

Johnson & Johnson performed better in the third quarter of 2018 than analysts expected, reported FAZ (p19) and Die Welt (p10) on Wednesday.
J&J reported a 7% jump in third-quarter drug sales, helped by soaring growth from prostate cancer and multiple myeloma medicines (APMHE 60165).

Novartis focuses on radiopharmaceuticals and gene therapies

Novartis will acquire U.S. oncology-focused biopharma Endocyte for $2.1 billion to to expand its radiopharmaceuticals pipeline (APMHE 60194), FAZ reports on Friday (p21).
Endocyte has accumulated $142 million in losses and not brought any products to marketing stage. Novartis could bring Endocyte’s first prostate cancer therapy to markets in 2021, according to Novartis chair Vas Narasimhan, FAZ writes.
Moreover, Novartis plans to develop new gene therapies after the spinout of its eyecare business Alcon, chair Joerg Reinhardt told FAZ in an interview published on Wednesday (p22) (APMHE 60181).
Novartis plans to market a second gene therapy developed in vision loss over the course of the next year, after the launch of CAR-T blood cancer therapy Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel) in Europe at the end of August.

Bill Gates sees 'untapped potential' in German life science research

Microsoft founder Bill Gates sees 'untapped potential' in German life science research, reported SZ on Wednesday (p22).
Talking at the World Health Summit in Berlin on Tuesday, Gates said that innovation was not promoted strongly enough in comparison with France and UK, and risk capital investment was too thin to convert basic research into marketed products.
More political commitment, new research structures, more foundations, corporate culture and a business-friendly environment are needed, he said.

Roche sales rise thanks to new drugs

Roche sales rose 7% in the third quarter of 2018 to 14 billion Swiss francs as new medicines such as multiple sclerosis drug Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) compensated for loss of exclusivity on long-time blockbusters, reported FAZ (p27) and Die Welt (p15) on Thursday.
Ocrevus, which is expected to generate more than 2 billion Swiss francs in sales in 2018, is the most successful product launch in the company's history, said company CEO Severin Schwan.



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