Press review

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GSK boss still paid less than science chief despite jump in pay to £5.9 million

LONDON, 15 MAR (APM) - GlaxoSmithKline boss Emma Walmsley received a 20% pay jump to £5.9 million last year but still took home less than the company’s chief scientific officer, The Telegraph reported on Tuesday.
The UK's biggest drugmaker revealed in its annual report that Dr Hal Barron was paid £6.6 million last year and got both a higher basic salary and annual bonus than the chief executive.
GSK said at the time of Walmsley’s appointment that her remuneration was set “at a level to reflect the fact that this was her first chief executive role”.
It was set below the market rate and 25% less her male predecessor Sir Andrew Witty after investors demanded that her salary be reduced to reflect her experience. Her annual bonus target was 100% of salary compared with Sir Andrew's 125%.
GSK added: “It was our intention to keep Walmsley’s package under review in the coming years, subject to her development and performance in role. We believe it is now the right time to start reflecting this development and performance in her remuneration.”
Her pay rise was a reward for delivering “a number of significant achievements” for the FTSE 100 giant last year.
The Guardian on Tuesday said she has become the highest paid female CEO in the FTSE 100 index.

Big pharma in the dock as U.S. blames it for opioid epidemic

The U.S. pharmaceutical industry has achieved the impossible, somehow managing to unite Donald Trump and the Democrats, The Telegraph reported at the weekend.
Across the political spectrum, big pharma is under attack for alleged price gouging and its role in the opioid epidemic which has swept the country. Already at the wrong end of what is believed to be the biggest cartel case in U.S. legal history over alleged generic price fixing, the industry is also being pursued for its role in the opioid crisis.
A raft of plaintiffs - including 35 states and around 1600 districts - are seeking redress from the courts with some of the biggest names in the industry, including the five largest manufacturers of painkillers, in the dock.
Such is the scale of the opioid litigation that Purdue Pharma - which is not involved in the price-fixing case - is reported to be considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to protect itself from crippling damages.

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma makes progress on overdose drug

The FT on Wednesday covered Purdue's announcement that the FDA is to fast track its new treatment for suspected opioid overdoses, nalmefene hydrochloride.
The injection has a longer-lasting effect than naloxone, the current treatment for opioid overdoses, the company said. The FDA did not respond to a request for comment, said the paper. Purdue hopes the product could be available in the next two years. 
Purdue says it will not profit from the new treatment if it is approved by the FDA, and said that it was exploring ways to ensure it would get to the patients that needed it the most. 

Shionogi switches EU HQ from London to Amsterdam

Japanese pharma company Shionogi is moving its European headquarters from London to Amsterdam in preparation for the UK’s exit from the EU, according to media reports. (APMHE 62203)
The FT at the weekend said that Shionogi is the latest in a string of Japanese companies, including Panasonic and Sony, looking to restructure their European operations to insulate themselves from potential disruption caused by Brexit.
Shionogi, which created its European headquarters in London just five years ago, is not planning to merge its UK-based operation with a Dutch subsidiary, said the FT, citing people familiar with the matter.

China threat to halt U.S. antibiotics supply

China should use its dominance in antibiotics to reduce medical supplies to the United States, a leading economist has suggested, The Times reported on Monday.
Li Daokui raised the prospect of Beijing curbing its exports of pharmaceuticals as a countermeasure in the trade war with the US. By some estimates, America imports 96 per cent of its antibiotics from China.
The paper said Daokui delivered the "veiled threat" at a general meeting of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a political advisory group, part of the annual national congress.
“Indeed we are at the mercy of others when it comes to computer chips, but we are the world’s largest exporter of raw materials for vitamins and antibiotics,” Dr Li, a professor of economics at the prestigious Tsinghua University, said. “Should we reduce the exports, the medical systems of some western countries will not run well.”

Monthly shots control HIV

Monthly shots of HIV drugs worked as well as daily pills to control the virus that causes AIDS in two large international tests, researchers have reported, the Daily Mail said at the weekend (APMHE 62207).
If approved by regulators in the U.S. and Europe, the shots would be a new option for people with HIV and could help some stay on treatment, said the paper. Instead of having to remember to take pills, patients instead could get injections from a doctor or nurse each month.
'Some people will be thrilled' at the convenience, said Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC, an AIDS advocacy group.

Microsoft moves into microbiology

Microsoft announced on Tuesday a big move into biotechnology with the launch of a new research system that enables scientists to engineer living cells using machine learning and data analysis.
The tech giant is partnering with researchers at Princeton University in the U.S. and two UK companies — Oxford BioMedica, which focuses on gene and cell therapy, and Synthace, which develops scientific software — as it rolls out the new system, called Station B, the FT reported on Tuesday.
The platform is a set of integrated computer programs that analyse vast volumes of biomedical data. It advises scientists how best to proceed with their research, for example suggesting how best to edit DNA to make genes function in a particular way.

Hikma back in the black despite fierce competition

Hikma has swung back into profit after putting the hefty costs associated with an acquisition two years ago behind it, The Telegraph reported on Wednesday (APMHE 62240).
The Jordanian generic drug maker made a $293 million pre-tax profit in 2018, compared to a $738 million loss a year earlier, when it booked a massive impairment charge and paid restructuring costs for its acquisition of Roxane Laboratories, now renamed West-Ward Columbus.
Siggi Olafsson, Hikma's Icelandic chief executive, said 2017 had been a tough year, but that the teething problems related to Roxane were now behind it. "We have a new team in place and are on track with our plan for growth," he added.

New cholesterol drug offers help to patients who cannot tolerate statins

Hundreds of thousands of people with high cholesterol would benefit from a new drug on top of taking statins, a trial has suggested, The Times reported on Thursday.
Bempedoic acid could also be an alternative for those who suffer side effects from statins. According to the trial, it brought down cholesterol by about 17%
A trial of 2,200 people found that bempedoic acid reduced cholesterol by 17% over 12 weeks although it did cause side effects such as gout, according to results published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The story was also covered in the Daily Mail.
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