Press review

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Sanofi launches new global cost-cutting plan

PARIS, 7 Dec (APM) - Le Monde Economie & Entreprise reports on Friday (p.5) that 670 posts are to be cut at Sanofi France as part of a global cost-cutting plan.
There was talk at the beginning of the week of upcoming job cuts at Sanofi, with Le Figaro reporting on Monday (p.25) that the unions of three of Sanofi’s legal entities in France were to attend a meeting on Wednesday. The paper also said that according to Sunday paper JDD, more than 500 posts were set to be cut (APMHE 60900).
The job cuts will primarily affect support and IT posts, according to a brief in l'Humanité on Monday (p.12). Following the meeting on Wednesday, L’Humanité reported in a brief on Thursday (p.14) that it will cut 670 support posts in France between now and the end of 2020 (APMHE 60934).
The job cuts were part of a voluntary redundancy plan and are taking place as part of a new world-wide transformation plan, la Croix said in a brief on Thursday (p.19) .
Le Figaro also reported on the cuts on Thursday (p.26), saying that Sanofi is going to create 250 posts at the same time in the digital and biotech field. The paper also said further job cuts will be announced in the next few weeks in the other countries Sanofi works in, such as Germany and the U.S.
The job cuts are part of Sanofi’s “Horizon 2020” strategy which aims to resize and change the expertise of its support roles, said Les Echos on Thursday (p.15).
Le Monde Economie & Entreprise goes into more detail about the Sanofi "Horizon 2020" strategy on Friday (p.5), reporting that the pharma says it is not abandoning France, and will invest €700 million in factories over the next two years, 45% more per year than over the past five years.

Levothyrox hearing begins

The first hearing in the affair surrounding Merck & Co’s Levothyrox (levothyroxine) has started in Lyon, Le Parisien said on Monday (p.9).
The affair is based on claims that a change in Levothyrox’s formula led to side effects for numerous patients. The pharma says no information was hidden from healthcare professionals or patients.
L’Humanité also reported on the beginning of the hearing on Monday (p.16) stating that the plaintiffs, 4,113 patients, are suing Merck & Co for “lack of information”.
According to France’s drug regulator ANSM, 31,000 pharmacovigilance reports were filed between March 2017 and April 2018 for Levothyrox’s new formula.
Liberation also reported on the affair on Tuesday (p.17), saying that the justice system will respond on 5 March and that the plaintiffs are each seeking an indemnity of €10,000.

GSK buys Tesaro

GlaxoSmithKline has bought U.S. group Tesaro, which specialises in oncology, for $5.1 billion, Les Echos reported in a brief on Wednesday (p.18), pointing out that GSK sold its oncology portfolio to Novartis in 2015 (APMHE 60877).
Le Monde Economie & Entreprise reported on the deal on Tuesday (p.5), adding that GSK has also sold its Asian nutrition division to Unilever for €3.3 billion (APMHE 60866).

Bayer to cut 12,000 jobs

L’Humanité reported on Wednesday (p.16) that Bayer is set to cut 12,000 jobs between now and 2021. The paper says this is the direct consequence of the company’s purchase of Monsanto earlier this year.

AstraZeneca CEO says China is as profitable as Europe

Les Echos ran an article on Thursday (p.20) with the CEO of AstraZeneca, Pascal Soriot. In the interview the CEO discussed AstraZeneca’s increased sales in Q3 of 2018, his opinion on the Brexit deal signed by Theresa May and the significance of China for AstraZeneca.
On the last point, Soriot said that given AstraZeneca sales in China had increased by 33% in the first nine months of 2018, for AstraZeneca the country is as profitable as Europe. He added that signing agreements with the Chinese companies Alibaba and Tencent is absolutely necessary to grow in China.
He also dismissed rumours of his departure as “fake news”.

Shire acquisition approved by Takeda shareholders

Almost 90% of Takeda’s shareholders approved the acquisition of the Irish pharma Shire for £46 billion in an extraordinary general meeting, Les Echos reported on Thursday (p.16).
Takeda will gain expertise in rare diseases and become one of the 10 largest pharmaceutical manufacturers worldwide (APMHE 60907).

New head for Pfizer France

Henriette Dræbye Rosenquist is the new head of Pfizer France, after a period as head of Pfizer Denmark, Les Echos reported on Wednesday (p.33).
Le Figaro also reported on the appointment on Wednesday (p.28), stating that she is taking over from Michel Ginestet, who after six years as head of the pharma is retiring in April next year (APMHE 60916).

Demand for BMS’ Upsa

The fight for Bristol-Myers Squibb’s French over-the-counter subsidiary, Upsa, is heating up, Le Figaro reported on Thursday (p.26) . BMS announced in June that it was looking to sell Upsa and it is open to acquisition offers until Friday.
At the moment there are five candidates: talian pharma Angelini, German pharma Stada, Japanese pharma Taisho Therapeutical and two investment funds, CVC and PAI.

France’s clinical trials ranking falls

France’s ranking in terms of how many clinical trials take place in the country is falling, according to a survey by French pharma body Leem, Les Echos reported on Thursday (p.21) (APMHE 60956).
The number of clinical trials taking place in Europe as a whole is falling, the paper reported, but France has been harder hit than its European neighbours.
The drop in the number of Phase I trials to 6% of all European Phase I studies hits patients particularly hard. The majority of these patients take part in clinical trials to get access to innovative treatment, the paper said.

Valsartan recall

Batches of valsartan-based drugs will be recalled across France after a possibly cancerogenic impurity, NDEA, was detected in batches manufactured by an Indian company, La Croix reported on Tuesday (p.11).
This follows on from batch recalls in the summer, when another impurity, NDMA, was detected in lots manufactured by a Chinese company.
Valsartan-based drugs are widely used to treat high blood pressure, but France's drug regulator (ANSM) says no patient will go without treatment (APMHE 60859).

Patients to sign before receiving Bayer’s Androcur

Patients will soon have to sign a care agreement before receiving Bayer’s Androcur, said the ANSM, Liberation reported on Tuesday (p.17).
Androcur is indicated in women for the treatment of hormone diseases and in men for some prostate cancers. However, the drug increases the risk of developing meningiomas, an often benign brain cancer.

AbbVie takes on on blood cancer

AbbVie has announced that its blood cancer drug Venclyxto (venetoclax) has been proved effective after three years, with progression-free survival at 70% and almost 88% of patients still alive, Les Echos reported on Tuesday (p.20).
The paper continued saying that these results are likely to help the drug get a positive evaluation from France’s health technology assessment body.

Novartis selling drugs for $1

Novartis is to sell the Red Cross 15 drugs at $1 each to distribute in Colombia, Le Figaro reports on Friday (p.26). Novartis already sells its drugs cheaply in five developing countries (Kenya, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda) as part of its Novartis Access measure.
The pharma also helps train doctors and nurses in Kenya.
Les Echos also reports on Novartis’ philanthropy on Friday (p.22), talking about the company’s subsidiary Novartis Social Business, which includes Novartis Access, Malaria Imitative (provides treatments and invests in research) and Healthy Family (which funds healthcare professional training in poor countries).
The head of Novartis Social Business says their aim is not to make money, but not to lose it.
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