Press review

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Bayer sets new priorities to tackle crisis

Country : Germany, U.S., UK

Keywords :
BERLIN, 7 Dec (APM) - German group Bayer has announced new priorities after last week's news of a 10% cut in jobs by 2021 to tackle its crisis, reports Handelsblatt on Friday (p52-59), and Sueddeutsche Zeitung (p20), Handelsblatt (p18) and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, (FAZ) (p22) on Thursday.
The company announced on Wednesday a goal of around €52 billion sales in 2022, and detailed its medium-term strategy.
Peak sales expectations for its most promising drug candidates were lowered from €6 billion to €3.75 billion, and new pharmaceuticals division head Stefan Oelrich admitted that Bayer has a gap in its medium-term pipeline (APMHE 60924).
Bayer is probably in the most difficult phase of its recent history, says Handelsblatt on Friday in a eight-page analysis.
The newspaper identifies four key factors: shareholders and investors have lost confidence; the legal risk linked to the acquisition of U.S. agricultural group Monsanto has been underestimated; the over-the-counter business is down, especially in the U.S. due to the competition of Amazon; the pharma pipeline is empty.
The announcement of the plan was a major blow to employees, reported Handelsblatt (p47) and SZ (p17) on Tuesday.
Employee representatives, like Michael Schmidt-Kießling for Bayer's Wuppertal site, are in a difficult situation but are showing loyalty to the group, Handelsblatt wrote.
In an editorial on Friday (p4), SZ criticises Bayer for its lack of foresight. The company plans to finance an early retirement plan for employees over 57 years of age in Germany, while at the same time German employers are warning of a lack of skilled workers that will weaken the industry in the future, it said.

Promising results for MorphoSys's MOR208

The share price of German biotech MorphoSys rose 3% on Monday after the presentation of interim data from the ongoing single-arm Phase II L-MIND study on MOR208 at the 60th American Society of Haematology (ASH) Annual Meeting, reported Handelsblatt on Tuesday (p18).
Results showed an overall response rate of 58%, with 33% complete responses and 25% partial responses, said Handelsblatt.
The company has increased its chances of getting approval for the first drug it has developed itself. Morphosys plans to present the final data in 2019 and then file for approval with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA). If everything runs smoothly, approval for MOR208 could be granted in 2020.
On the basis of previous data, around 50 U.S. investors have already expressed interest in investing in MorphoSys, CEO Simon Moroney told FAZ on Sunday (p36).

German biotech investor Hopp plans IPOs

German major biotech investor Dietmar Hopp says that German biotech CureVac may go public within the next two years, he told Handelsblatt on Thursday (p1 and 14) (APMHE 60945).
CureVac is an "exemplary candidate for going public" although there are no concrete plans yet, he said.
Hopp, who has invested €1.4 billion in biotechs through his family office dievini Hopp biotech holding, said that all 10 biotechs in its portfolio are headed towards going public or being divested.

Insider tells story of Hoechst's downfall

Karl-Gerhard Seifert, a former board member of German pharmaceuticals group Hoechst, explains in his book "Goodbye Hoechst" why the group disappeared, reports FAZ on Friday.
Hoechst bought U.S. company Marion Merrel Dow in 1995 to become the second biggest pharma company, but the integration was mismanaged, said Seifert, who then disagreed with chairman Juergen Dormann.
As a result, many researchers left the company, the pipeline lacked new active ingredients and the group was split between pharma and chemicals. Hoechst Marion Roussel merged with French company Rhône-Poulenc under the name Aventis, which was later bought by Sanofi.
However, the group identity is so strong that former employees still call each other 'Hoechsters', Seifert said. The disappearance of the name Hoechst remains traumatic, he said.

Merck KGaA cuts 400 jobs in performance materials

Merck KGaA plans to cut around 400 jobs at its headquarters in Darmstadt by 2022 in the performance materials division, reported FAZ on Saturday (p39)
There will be no redundancies for operational reasons and employees will be offered jobs in other divisions of the company.
According to a Merck spokesperson, the reduction is a consequence of competition in liquid crystals.

GlaxoSmithKline makes double deal

GlaxoSmithKline has made a double deal that will strengthen its oncology pipeline, Handelsblatt (p23), FAZ (p23) and Die Welt (p10) wrote on Tuesday.
GSK announced the same day the acquisition of U.S. cancer drug specialist Tesaro Bio for $5.1 billion (APMHE 60877) and the sale of its health food and drinks portfolio in India and 20 other predominantly Asian markets to Unilever for £3.1 billion (APMHE 60866).
However, investors reacted negatively to Tesaro acquisition, apparently fearing that the price paid was too high (APMHE 60925).

Takeda acquires Shire

Japan's biggest pharma company Takeda has acquired Irish competitor Shire for $62 billion, more than Takeda's own value, despite the opposition of some members of the Takeda family, SZ reported on Thursday (p22) and Handelsblatt on Tuesday (p19) (APMHE 60907).
Chief executive Christophe Weber has promised to make the deal profitable by cutting costs. He predicts annual savings of at least $1.4 billion three years after completion, and expects to boost underlying earnings significantly as of the first full year after closing.
Takeda will be joining the ranks of the world's top 10 drugmakers and will have more than $30 billion in sales. It will also become one of the most indebted pharmas. In addition to issuing new shares, the company has secured $30.9 billion in bank loans.

Merck & Co and vaccine alliance supply 300,000 Ebola vaccines

Merck & Co and vaccine alliance Gavi are prepared to supply 300,000 doses of rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine for the recent outbreak of the disease in East Congo, SZ reported on Monday (p16).
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Congo government have allowed a compassionate use programme for the vaccine, as it has not yet been approved.

€35 million for no-deal Brexit emergency plans

UK pharma companies are reported to have invested €35 million in emergency plans in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Die Welt wrote on Thursday (p7).
The Manufacturers' Healthcare Distribution Association is still predicting drug shortages, Die Welt reported.
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