Press review

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Online drug prescriptions to arrive in Germany

Country : China, Germany, South Korea

Keywords :
BERLIN, 16 Nov (APM) - German law will be changed in order to allow doctors to prescribe drugs to patients only seen in video consultations, Health Minister Jens Spahn told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) on Tuesday (p15).
Statutory health insurance companies and doctors' associations will be asked to agree on rules enabling prescriptions to be delivered in electronic form.
The law, which is planned to come into effect by 2020 at the latest, will also remove the prohibition on pharmacies delivering prescription-only medicines when the physician saw the patient in a video consultation, FAZ said.
"The electronic prescription will boost the success of telemedicine," Spahn added.
Political parties, pharmacists and umbrella payer group GKV-Spitzenverband welcomed the move, even hoping for more rapid implementation, reported FAZ (p18) on Wednesday.

Germany plans biosimilar substitution at pharmacy

The German Health Minister told Handelsblatt on Wednesday (p11) that he wants to allow pharmacists to substitute biological products with biosimilars (APMHE 60579).
Under a planned drugs bill, pharmacists would have to supply the cheaper version of biological drugs as long as the prescribing physician did not expressly object to substitution. Health technology assessment (HTA) body G-BA will regulate which biological drugs can be substituted.

Planned prohibition of alternative living cell therapies

The German Health Ministry plans to prohibit alternative practitioners from treating patients with drugs they produce themselves or living cell therapies, reported Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) on Saturday (p8).
It is planned to change the Medicines Act accordingly. Until now, it has been possible for members of non-medical professions, such as alternative practitioners, to produce prescription drugs themselves to treat their own patients.
In 2016, a non-medical practitioner from the Lower Rhine town of Brüggen-Bracht hit the headlines after several deaths occurred among seriously ill cancer patients using his home-made therapy.

Stada in final round to buy UPSA

German generics manufacturer Stada has reached the final round of the bidding competition for the takeover of over-the-counter drug business UPSA, a French subsidiary of U.S. pharma Bristol-Myers Squibb, reported FAZ on Saturday (p30).
Italian pharma Angelini, as well as two investment companies, CVC Capital Partners and PAI Partners, have also been shortlisted for the approximately €1 billion offer (APMHE60547).

Merck KGaA lowers 2018 profit outlook

Merck KGaA lowered its full-year profit outlook for 2018 on Wednesday due to the continued strong devaluation of Latin American currencies against the euro, reported FAZ on Thursday (p18, p39).
The company said it now expects adjusted earnings (EBITDA) to decline to between €3.7 and €3.9 billion in 2018, compared with a previous target range of €3.75 to €4 billion.
Good sales performance in the third quarter, with a 6.6% increase to €3.7 billion, boosted Merck's share price by nearly 5% on Wednesday, FAZ also reported.

Merck KGaA builds innovation centre in south China

Merck KGaA has signed an agreement to build an innovation centre in the southern China city of Guanghzou, reported FAZ on Wednesday (p40) (APMHE 60537).
The "innovation hub" will work together with start-ups, academic institutions, business partners and local government to develop innovative technologies in Merck's business sectors - healthcare, life science and performance materials.

Bayer involved in glyphosate lawsuits well beyond 2021

Bayer expects to be involved in litigation related to weedkiller glyphosate well beyond 2021, reported FAZ (p22), Handelsblatt (p18 and 26) and Die Welt (p17) on Wednesday.
In the first case alone related to plaintiff Dewayne Johnson, the appeal process will probably take place in 2020 or 2021, the company said at the third quarter results conference on Wednesday.
The number of U.S. lawsuits is still growing, and has now reached 9,300, said Bayer CEO Werner Baumann (APMHE 60563).
In an editorial, Handelsblatt wrote that the share price loss is also due to stagnation in Bayer's business, particularly the pharma division "losing momentum" and the non-prescription business "constantly losing profit". Bayer can only counter this scepticism with "convincing operational arguments", in particular by the successful integration of Monsanto, it added.

Samsung BioLogics shares suspended

Trading of Samsung BioLogics shares has been suspended after South Korea's financial regulator found the company had intentionally breached accounting rules, FAZ reported on Thursday (p21) (APMHE 60572).
The Financial Services Commission said Samsung Biologics had artificially inflated the value of a subsidiary in 2015 ahead of its 2016 stock exchange listing.
Samsung BioLogics denied the allegations and has announced legal action, saying it applied the right rules to the reassessment, which was approved at that time by the financial supervisory authorities.

More prescription drugs on sale on internet portals

The number of prescription drugs on sale on German internet portals is increasing from year to year, reported Der Spiegel on Saturday (p78-79).
According to pharmacists' association Freie Apothekerschaft, which monitors internet portals, there were at least 2,500 ads from non-pharmacists selling medicines in 2017 and already 2,900 ads in 2018, including 720 prescription drugs. The number of unreported cases is probably much higher, it said.
Nasal sprays, insulin, thrombosis injections, Botox, contraceptive pills, strong painkillers and antibiotics are on sale. For some sellers, this is a way to get money back on an unfinished pack, and they are unaware that they are breaking the law, Spiegel said.

Too few clinical studies on elderly people

Older people are far too rarely included in drug studies, although they often tolerate medication differently than younger people, FAZ reported on Sunday (p19).
Because older people often have several, chronic diseases and take a corresponding number of drugs, studies taking these comorbidities into account would be complex and expensive, the chair of the German society for internal medicine (DGIM) Cornel Sieber told FAZ.
Physicians need appropriate tools to choose the appropriate medications, but also time. Sieber is a supporter of the Forta ("Fit for the Aged") list, which classifies drugs in 29 age-relevant diagnoses from those that are positively assessed - shown by experience to always benefit older people - to those that have mostly proven to perform poorly
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