Press review

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Italian medicines agency asks eBay to block ads for unauthorised psoriasis, dermatology cream

MILAN, 22 Feb (APM) - The Italian medicines agency AIFA has asked eBay to block advertisements for an unauthorised medication, Aur Derm Crema, which is being sold to treat psoriasis, dermatitis and other skin disorders, Corriere della Sera reported on Thursday.
The paper said the product has been promoted online as a miraculous cure but it is being sold illegally. According to the Italian regulator, it has not been approved for marketing either in Italy or in other EU member states and it is impossible to affirm its quality, safety or efficacy.
AIFA stressed in an official announcement that the medication does not only contain natural ingredients as has been advertised. Laboratory tests have shown that it contains four different pharmacological substances: propionate, procaine, benzocaine and lidocaine.
The president of the Italian dermatology society, Piergiacomo Calzavara Pinton, said that it also contains a powerful corticosteroid, clobetasol, which was ‘masked’ to hide its presence.
He said the four pharmacological substances have no curative effect on psoriasis and could induce allergic reactions on contact. The only reason it ‘works’ is because of the clobetasol, Calzavara Pinton told the paper.
The price the cream has been sold at is something like 500 times higher than a normal clobetasol-based product, he added.

Genenta Science developing revolutionary gene therapy for cancer

Genenta Science is looking to develop a gene therapy which will revolutionise cancer treatment, La Repubblica reported on Monday.
The company’s CEO, Pierluigi Paracchi, told the paper that it uses pieces of DNA as if they were a medicine. He likened the therapy to “a Trojan horse”. A very powerful viral vector is created from the HIV virus which allows for a curative gene to be transmitted into the cancer cells, where it can create and discharge an anti-tumour protein.
Patients are being enrolled for a trial which will go ahead in coming months. The next two years will be decisive for the company as it seeks to demonstrate the validity of 20 years of research.
Genenta Science was founded in 2014 and raised €10 million capital a year later. Paracchi said it would never have got as far as it has without the help of Milan’s San Raffaele hospital, which is one of Italy’s main cell and gene therapy centres.
The biotech was spun out of the hospital, which gave it the patents needed to start development of a cancer therapy. It raised another €7 million in 2017 and is now looking forward to testing it on a significant number of patients to demonstrate safety and efficacy.

Piedmont to abolish drug prescription charges

Piedmont will abolish drug prescription charges from the beginning of March, La Stampa reported on Wednesday.
A member of the regional council, Angela Motta, described this as another step forward in the region’s return to financial stability after it came close to bankruptcy five years ago. Last month, Italy’s health ministry recognised Piedmont as the Italian region with the highest quality health services.

Menarini focusing on cancer in pipeline

Menarini is concentrating its R&D on cancer drugs in its pipeline, Il Tirreno reported on Sunday.
Lucia Aleotti, shareholder and member of the board of directors, spoke about the group’s strategy in 2019 on the sidelines of a meeting held to discuss relations between Tuscany and the U.S, the paper said.
“We are very focused on oncology and we have four cancer trials ongoing in our research and development division. The pharmaceutical research pathway is long. It takes time, determination and a lot of investment to be able to develop a drug,” she was reported as saying.
Asked about the Italian economy, which entered recession in the last quarter of last year, Aleotti admitted she is worried. “We would like Italy to do better, because we know it is capable,” she said.

Health Italia buys 25% of UK’s StemWay Biotech

Health Italia has bought 25% of UK’s StemWay Biotech, according to Wednesday’s Milano Finanza.
The Italian company paid €300,000 for the stake. The deal is part of its business strategy to increase revenues to €60 million by the end of 2020, the paper said.
StemWay is a knowledge company operating in the fields of stem cells and predictive genetics testing. It treats and conserves cord blood stem cells.
Health Italia sees it as making valuable contribution to building a competitive position in the health technology market in Italy, Milano Finanza said.

Inter Farmaci declares bankruptcy

Inter Farmaci, a pharma company which specialised in distribution of innovative drugs, has been declared bankrupt, La Stampa reported on Tuesday.
Founded in Switzerland, its operations were based in Verbania on Lake Maggiore and initially expanded fast. No explanation for the collapse was given.
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