Press review

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Spanish newspaper denounces statin overuse

MADRID, 14 Dec (APM) - Millions of people are being prescribed statins for life despite having low cardiovascular risk, according to a lengthy Thursday story in daily El País.
People who were considered healthy only a few years ago are now listening to their doctors tell them they need a drug for life if they want to reduce their cardiovascular risk. This recommendation has been backed up by prominent cardiologists but has also been protested against by other specialists, the newspaper said.
Critics of “loose” statin prescription argue that side effects such as muscle pain and increased risk of developing diabetes may be acceptable for high-risk patients but do not make sense in healthy people.
These specialists have also noted that physicians in charge of clinical guidelines tend to be "closer to pharmaceutical companies” and favour their criteria to boost statin prescription, El País added.
According to the daily, sales of statins are expected to reach €1 billion in 2020, if this prescription trend is maintained. Sales of Pfizer’s Lipitor (atorvastatin) have been more than $120 billion from its launch in 1996 to 2011.
El País quoted a recent article published in the Annals of Internal Medicine as suggesting that the threshold above which the benefits of statins outweigh the risks is much higher than what is established in clinical guidelines written by members of medical societies.
It also quoted lead author Milo Puhan as saying that, according to these data, less than 20% of adults should be on statins. Currently, 40% of adults are being treated with these medicines, the newspaper added.

Personalised medicine, a growing business

Spain needs to accelerate its technological development in order to catch up with recent advances in personalised medicine, a business which is expected to be worth more than €2.6 billion in 2012, financial Cinco Días reported on Thursday.
The article said Novartis, Sanofi, Janssen, Pfizer and Merck are some of the pharmaceutical companies with a focus on this kind of therapy.
Spanish healthcare authorities, research centres, hospitals and pharma are trying to build a database containing the genetic information of all patients in an effort to make personalised medicine a reality.
The implementation of personalised therapies depends on big data, but Spain is still lacking a digital transformation, the financial reported.
Cinco Días quoted Baltasar Lobato, a partner in Health and Life Sciences EY consulting firm, as saying: “Every big pharmaceutical company is taking steps in this direction via acquisitions or collaboration agreements with biotech companies”.
The Spanish government's strategic plan for personalised medicine is still in a “definition phase”, to facilitate the availability of CAR-T therapies, the financial added.

Novartis’ Kymriah approved for reimbursement

The Spanish ministry of health has approved the first CAR-T therapy available in Spain, Novartis’ Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel), it was widely reported on Wednesday and Thursday. (APMHE 61052)
Europa Press and EFE agencies focused on the announcement, made by health minister María Luisa Carcedo during a meeting of the Spanish Network of Cell Therapies in Madrid on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, medical journals Acta Sanitaria, IM Médico Hospitalario, Redacción Médica, Diario Médico and Gaceta Médica followed with stories based on a statement by Novartis.
The company said the approval for reimbursement was based on a risk-sharing agreement, Redacción Médica noted.

Australia approves PharmaMar’s Aplidin

Australia is the first country to approve PharmaMar’s multiple myeloma drug Aplidin (plitidepsin), daily ABC, Europa Press agency, financials El Economista, Cinco Días and Expansión reported on Tuesday. (APMHE 61012)
Financial Cinco Días reported that, according to the firm, this approval opens the door to other potential markets such as South Africa, Mexico, Canada, Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Northern Africa.

Bayer 'a patient in critical condition'

On Sunday, daily ABC carried a lengthy story about the Bayer, which recently announced a plan to cut 12,000 jobs. (APMHE 60829)
According to the daily, job cuts come as a consequence of legal trouble, bad investment, lack of successful research and the Monsanto acquisition.
The headline was: “Bayer patient in critical condition”.
bd/clg

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