Press review

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Fresenius CEO confident about group's future growth

BERLIN, 25 Jan (APM) - Fresenius chief executive Stephan Sturm is confident about the company's growth despite two recent profit warnings due to lower than expected forecasts for the hospital and dialysis units, he said in an interview with monthly Manager Magazin (p50-53).
"We will continue to grow, but a slightly slower rate than was previously announced", Sturm said.
2018 will be "another record year" for Fresenius, a decline in earnings is not expected for 2019 despite "a large number of investments", while sales and earnings are expected to grow "in an attractive way" from 2020, he added.
Talking about the aborted acquisition of U.S. generic drugmaker Akorn, Sturm said it had brought unnecessary "uncertainty". However, Fresenius won in court against Akorn (APMHE 60982), showing that risk-related clauses included by Fresenius' jurists had worked, Sturm said.
Sturm also denied making decisions alone and rather praised the "intensive" and fruitful dialogue with other management board members.

Questions on price of LentiGlobin

The potentially huge price of bluebird bio's gene therapy for transfusion-dependent beta thalassemia LentiGlobin raises concerns about its sustainability for German payers, Handelsblatt wrote on Thursday (p9) (APMHE 61565).
bluebird bio's Germany head Susanne Digel told the newspaper that the company will comply with the German pricing procedure, which links the reimbursed price negotiated with payers to the added benefit rating.
She added that the company would welcome an outcome-based payment model running over five years.

German parallel import quota saved

The German parallel import quota for drugs that the Health Minister Jens Spahn was considering abolishing has been saved thanks to pressure from politicians supporting Germany's biggest drug importer, Kohlpharma, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) writes on Friday (p19) (APMHE 61581).
According to governmental circles, politicians from the western region of Saarland, where Kohlpharma is headquartered - including two ministers - put pressure on Spahn to change his plans.

German Health Minister eyes cost-containment on gene therapies

German Health Minister Jens Spahn is looking for cost-saving opportunities on gene therapies, he said in an interview with FAZ on Tuesday (APMHE 61525).
The new and very high-priced gene therapies can quickly cost considerably more than €300,000, Spahn said, adding that the topic would be addressed in 2019.

Merck KGaA signs deal with Chinese tech giant Tencent

Merck KGaA wants to develop digital health services in China with internet company Tencent, reported FAZ on Thursday (p41) (APMHE 61542).
The collaboration will primarily focus on "increasing public disease awareness" and "providing more accessible healthcare services" via digital platforms in the fields of allergy, infertility, diabetes, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular diseases and oncology.

BioNTech buys partner's antibody production unit

German biotech BioNTech has announced the acquisition of the antibody production unit of Mab Discovery, a Munich-based biotech company, reported FAZ on Thursday (p18).
BionNTech is buying all the assets and employees of Mab Discovery's antibody generation business. The two companies have been working together for more than five years.

Culture shock at Boehringer

Boehringer Ingelheim's former chief finance officer Simone Menne experienced the 'culture shock' that German managers can face when they move from a corporation to a medium-sized company, Manager Magazin writes on Friday (p74-78).
Menne is mentioned as one of the many examples picked up by the monthly in a feature article. Menne, who is "impulsive and outspoken", clashed with Boehringer chairman Hubertus von Baumbauch, a rather introverted man who "appreciates a quiet tone of voice", the monthly writes.

Pharmacists' association asks for ban on online pharmacy discounts

German pharmacists' association ABDA has called on Health Minister Jens Spahn to prohibit discounts that online pharmacies offer to customers ordering prescription drugs, reported FAZ on Saturday (p8) and Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) on Monday (p17).
This would constitute a compromise: Spahn intended to allow bonuses up to €2.50 per prescription under the planned law on "better safety in drug supply" (GSAV), whereas ABDA initially called for prohibition for online pharmacies to sell prescription drugs altogether.

Long-term investments in biotech needed to see returns

Biotech investments need to be long-term in order for shareholders to get positive returns, writes weekly Wirtschaftswoche on Friday (p76-78) in a review of several companies.
The biotech sector is anticyclical and can therefore offer an alternative for shareholders in turbulent times when internet stocks are at the peak of their boom and export companies are suffering from the trade war between the U.S. and China, the weekly writes.

Contraceptive SPCs to warn about depression

The leaflets of hormonal contraceptives will be updated to warn about mental side effects such as depression and suicidal thoughts, Die Welt reported on Tuesday (p20).
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended adding these side effects to the product leaflets of birth control pills and patches as well as hormonal intrauterine devices and vaginal rings.

Bias in results of trials sponsored by pharma companies

Trials sponsored by pharma companies are creating biased results as they are "prone to systemic errors", SZ reported on Tuesday (p13).
Methods, data and the experimental setup are chosen "according to desired results", the paper said.
As a consequence, trials are blind to certain side-effects or risks for patients, which is in the "economic interest" of the industry, SZ wrote.
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