Press review

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Pharma under price pressure - German press

Country : Germany, U.S.

Keywords :
BERLIN, 18 Jan (APM) - The pharmaceutical industry will remain under pricing pressure from regulators, patients, politicians and payers in 2019, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) (p31) and Handelsbatt (p18-19) write on Friday.
Aggressive negotiation tactics to drive down drug prices are expected, especially in the U.S. market, says FAZ, quoting a study by analysts GlobalData. Tensions between the U.S. and China and the UK leaving the European Union may add additional downward effects.
For 2019, analysts for Big Pharma expect sales to increase by 2.7 % on average, with Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), AstraZeneca and Merck & Co. to achieve the strongest growth, Handelsblatt says.
The industry's adjusted net profits are expected to grow by 3% to $155 billion in 2019, after rising by a relatively strong 24% in 2018, mainly due to special effects such as the U.S. tax reform.

Fierce debate over Health Minister initiative

Health Minister Jens Spahn's demand for additional power to decide on reimbursement of medical procedures has sparked a fierce debate, reported FAZ (p19 and 20) and Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) on Saturday (p4), FAZ on Sunday (p20) and Handelsblatt on Tuesday (p8).
His amendment to the bill on "faster appointments and better care" (TSVG), if successful, would constitute "a major shift in the German healthcare system" as decisions on reimbursement are currently taken by the self-governing legal entity G-BA, which brings together physicians, dentists, payers and hospitals, FAZ wrote.
The danger of Spahn's proposition would be that "one political party could promise the reimbursement of cosmetic surgery, or another free access to nose drops, during election campaigns," FAZ added (APMHE 61418).
MPs also criticised Spahn for overloading the bill - now called a 'mammoth bill' - with amendments that make parliamentary discussions more difficult.

Health Minister appoints new experts

Economist Beate Jochimsen and oncologist Christof von Kalle are the two new members of the health experts' advisory council (SVR Gesundheit), FAZ (p20) and Die Welt wrote on Monday (p20) (APMHE 61406).
Von Kalle is known to have defended high expenditure for cancer therapies in the past, FAZ wrote.
Health Minister Jens Spahn said he expects that the council will in future pay more attention to "topics such as digitisation, big data and artificial intelligence".

German psychiatrists oppose drug prescription by psychotherapists

The German association for psychiatry, psychotherapy and psychosomatics (DGPPN) has protested against a draft law prepared by the health ministry that would allow some psychotherapists to prescribe drugs, reported FAZ on Sunday (p16).
According to DGPPN chair Andreas Heinz, too many psychotropic drugs are already being prescribed, and only well-trained professionals with medical knowledge and a holistic view can monitor effects and side effects adequately.
Otherwise patients will be put in danger, especially older ones who are already taking chronic treatments, he said.

Plant for medical cannabis near Dresden

German-Canadian pharma company Wayland is transforming a former slaughterhouse into a manufacturing site for cannabis pills, SZ wrote on Saturday (p32).
Wayland, which has placed a bid to be one of the few companies to be granted a manufacturing licence for medical cannabis in 2020, plans to invest €25 million in Germany.

Executive exodus at AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca's chief medical officer and head of development Sean Bohen is leaving the company, the latest in a series of resignations, wrote Handelsblatt on Tuesday (p47) (APMHE 61435).
Before him, several other top managers such as portfolio strategy boss Mark Mallon had already left as AZN restructures both its R&D and commercial business.
AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot denied rumours he was about to leave, saying the move to restructure the company demonstrates his commitment.

Doubts over benefit of antidepressants

A meta-analysis of more than 500 studies on antidepressants conducted by Oxford university has proved a statistically significant benefit for these drugs compared to placebo, Die Welt reported on Sunday (p21).
However, in psychiatric practice, only two in three patients benefit more from taking an antidepressant than placebo, and residual symptoms often persist, die Welt wrote.
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