Press review

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Companies planning to increase drug prices in U.S.

LONDON, 4 Jan (APM) - Twenty-eight pharma companies plan to raise the prices of drugs in the U.S. in January, the Daily Mail said on Wednesday.
The firms filed notifications with California agencies in early November disclosing that they planned to raise prices in 60 days or longer, said the paper, citing an article from Reuters. (APMHE 61161)
The increases come after President Donald Trump's pledge to lower the costs of prescription medications in the U.S.
The Daily Telegraph covered the story on Thursday, saying the most aggressive company was Allergan, which had upped the price of more than 50 drugs.

BMS to buy Celgene

Bristol-Myers Squibb’s agreement to buy Celgene was widely reported on Thursday.
Most reports, including the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph, valued the deal at $74 billion, however the FT said the cash-and-stock deal values Celgene at roughly $90 billion including debt.
The deal will create a company with nine treatments bringing in more than $1 billion in annual sales and a significant potential for growth in oncology, immunology and inflammation and cardiovascular disease.
BMS’ shares fell sharply as the deal was announced, while Celgene's stock rose by around a third.
The FT said the deal “sets the stage” for another big year of dealmaking for the pharma industry.

Breath test to detect cancer

Researchers have a launched a clinical trial to see if a breath test can detect cancer, the Daily Telegraph said on Thursday.
The tests, which will be run by Cancer Research UK, will collect breath samples from 1,500 people and will aim to identify odorous molecules called volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
All cells produce VOCs through their normal day-to-day operation, but if their metabolism changes, such as in cancer, they release a different pattern, said the paper.
If the trial is successful, it would mean that cancer could be spotted quickly before it has spread.

Pharma impact on climate change

The FT on Wednesday carried a feature on the pharma industry’s impact on climate change. It said the industry is generally considered a “medium-impact sector” but that there is growing recognition that it can do more.
The paper spoke to AstraZeneca’s Ben Norbury, who said: “It’s absolutely material to our business because climate change threatens to undermine the last half-century’s advances in global health.”
Sanofi’s Sandrine Bouttier-Stref added that her company is the only pharma firm to have signed the Pledge of Paris, supporting an international agreement to work to limit the rise in global temperatures to 2C.
Novartis’ Karen Coyne added that tackling climate change can be beneficial from a financial point of view as it can drive efficiencies and cost savings.

UK infection research booming

Human infection studies are enjoying rapid growth in the UK, with ethics committees becoming "helpful and supportive partners" and a £2.6 million grant programme led by the Medical Research Council, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.
“The field was in the doldrums for a long time but there has been a real expansion of interest in the last five years,” said Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London and director of the council’s new programme, called Hic-Vac.
“One factor is a change in the regulatory environment and particularly in the attitude of ethics committees, which seemed in the past to be there just to stop you doing things,” he said. “Instead of being naysayers, ethics committees have become helpful and supportive partners.”
The first nine Hic-Vac grants, worth £100,000 each, enable researchers to infect volunteers with a range of pathogens, including flu viruses, typhoid bacteria and schistosoma tapeworms.

England’s poor have worse access to GP services

Poor people in England are receiving different standards of care from the UK's NHS than the rich, with some poorer communities getting "left behind" when accessing GP services, according to data analysed for an FT report on Sunday.
The disclosure that there is a difference in the level of service received by poorer communities casts new light on contrasts between the health of wealthier and poorer citizens, the paper noted.
It said the differences have previously been ascribed to factors beyond the control of the health service, such as unhealthy lifestyles or poor living conditions.
The findings are unexpected, the paper added, since the NHS’s funding formula is designed to funnel more money to the neediest areas.
"The findings raise questions about how well the 70-year-old National Health Service is meeting its founding principles of equity and intensifies pressure on the NHS to outline plans to reduce health inequalities when it publishes its long-awaited spending plan next month," according to the article.

Injection for Alzheimer's 'available within decade'

An injection capable of halting the progress of Alzheimer’s could be available to patients within a decade, Britain’s leading dementia organisation predicts.
The Alzheimer’s Society said a series of recent breakthroughs in treatments that disrupt harmful genes has brought scientists to a “tipping point” in their fight against the disease, The Daily Telegraph reported on Monday.
For decades, researchers have sought without success a treatment for Alzheimer’s based on targeting damaging proteins that build up in the brain.
However, the “remarkable” results of a recent trial which set out to silence the troublesome genes which regulate proteins in children with a rare spinal condition have convinced scientists they could adopt the same approach in people at high risk of dementia.
Dr James Pickett, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, told The Daily Telegraph that an injection to the spine, which prevents certain forms of the disease taking hold, could be available in less than 10 years. (APMHE 61247).
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