Press review

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Aspen forces Spanish hospitals to buy cancer drugs overseas at higher prices

Country : Spain, U.S.

Keywords :
MADRID, 7 Dec (APM) - Aspen Pharmacare withdrew five cancer drugs from Spain in 2014, forcing hospitals to purchase overseas at up to 30-fold higher prices ever since, dailies El País, Público and medical journal Redacción Médica reported on Thursday and Friday.
Aspen Pharmacare has multiplied the income generated by five of its cancer drugs by withdrawing them from Spain and forcing hospitals to purchase in other countries, where the firm has successfully negotiated higher prices. For some of these medicines, prices overseas are 30 times higher than they were in Spain, El País reported.
There are no alternatives to these cancer drugs. Aspen has been trying to obtain higher prices in the country and negotiated unsuccessfully on this with the Spanish ministry of health.
The latest refusal of the company's demands for price increases was communicated by the pricing commission of the ministry last week. However, Aspen ends up making money out of high overseas prices anyway, the daily said.
El País quoted a story in The Times as reporting that Aspen intended to achieve price hikes for these drugs by destroying stock. (APMHE 52683)
Hospitals across Spain pay €104 for a package of Leukeram (clorambucil) to treat chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). In 2014, it was sold at €3.37. Myrelan (busulfan), also a leukaemia medicine, is currently purchased by Spanish hospitals at €244.40, a 20-fold increase from 2014. The prices of Alkeran (melphalan), Tioguanina (tioguanine) and Purinethol (mercaptopurine) have been multiplied by 19, 6 and 7 respectively, El País added.
Contacted by El País, representatives of Aspen refused to comment.
The newspaper included information about Aspen’s strategy in Italy. (APMHE 58835)
It also quoted Francesc Bosch, head of haematology at Vall d’Hebron Hospital in Barcelona, as saying: “Even though there are more modern, efficient and expensive treatments available, Aspen’s medicines remain indispensable”.
Ramón García Sanz, president elect of The Spanish Haematology and Haemotherapy Society, added: “There is something we are doing wrong if nobody is interested in manufacturing a drug which is still necessary. This creates the conditions for some companies to implement this kind of strategy”.
On Friday, Redacción Médica quotes an emailed statement by Miriam Rodríguez, head of Aspen Pharmacare Spain, as saying that the company has followed all the established procedures in its request for higher prices, including comparison with prices of competitors.
“If the ministry had accepted [our proposal of higher prices in Spain], the result would have been savings in purchases of all our products in comparison with the current situation”, she said.

Addiction painkiller family escaping justice

The Sackler dynasty, owners of Purdue Pharma, has kept its name clean by substantial donations to prestigious institutions in spite of its being guilty of creating thousands of addicts to its painkiller OxyContin, daily El País reported on Tuesday.
The Sackler name is engraved on the façades of some of the most prestigious institutions in the world, including the Louvre and Guggenheim museums, Harvard, Columbia, Stanford and Oxford universities.
The family business flourished with the launch of OxyContin. Sales of the drug from 1995 to the present are over €30 billion, El País reported.
According to the newspaper, a number of research articles have linked this painkiller to the addiction pandemic affecting the U.S.. A recent report by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse said that 10% of patients who receive this kind of painkiller become addicts. Half of them end up using heroin, El País added.
Purdue Pharma representatives and the Sackler family continues to make huge donations to institutions, physicians and studies which conclude it is all the consumers’ fault. In spite of a number of lawsuits, the company’s legal team usually reaches financial arrangements before any case is taken to court, the newspaper added.

GSK deal to buy U.S. Tesaro for $5.1 billion

GlaxoSmithKline has acquired U.S. biotech Tesaro for $5.1 billion, financial Expansión, Cinco Días and El Economista reported on Tuesday. (APMHE 60925)
El Economista quoted a company statement as saying the operation will help GSK strengthen its position in the oncology market. The transaction is planned to be complete during Q1 2019, El Economista noted.
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