Press review

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Italian health minister suggests reporters who criticise her are on pharma’s ‘payroll’

MILAN, 15 Mar (APM) - Accusations by Italy's health minister that journalists are on pharma’s payroll are a serious concern, Quotidiano Sanità said in an editorial published on Tuesday.
Giulia Grillo was speaking at a press conference during the presentation of a draft resolution on improving transparency in drugs and vaccines pricing which is to be discussed at the World Health Assembly in May.
While stressing the importance of keeping spending under control, she expressed surprise that journalists who criticise her never talk about drugs.
“There are two or three who constantly write about the problems of sustainability in the system, but they never mention the expenditure (on drugs) which amounts to €30 billion euros, including public and private spending. It’s not exactly small change,” she was quoted as saying.
The minister then explained why she thinks too little is written about it. “It occurs to me that these defenders of public health are probably on the payroll of pharmaceutical companies,” she said.
The editorial was written by Quotidiano Sanità’s editor, Cesare Fassari. He described the accusations as very serious despite the fact no names were mentioned. Indeed he suggested that it was even more worrying because no one was identified.
This transformed the accusation into an “anathema”, he suggested. It was as if the minister was accusing anyone who criticises or has criticised her policies. It creates an idea of “if you criticise me you don't do it because you disagree with me but because you are paid by someone to do it,” Fassari wrote.
He admitted this may not have been the intention of the minister when she said it. But that is what will be remembered. “And that is why we hope that the minister will find a way and a time to clarify and explain more precisely what was said,” he concluded.

Only 600 pharmacies out of 19,000 applied to sell drugs online

Only 600 pharmacies out of 19,000 which are eligible have applied to sell medicines online, according to Tuesday’s Il Sole 24 Ore.
There are very strict rules about web sales of drugs and they overlap with other healthcare regulations for the internet.
Pharma e-commerce has good growth prospects for a number of reasons including an ageing population and the increasing importance of healthcare. It should therefore be an area that more pharmacies are looking to move into, the paper said.

Bayer’s Xarelto approved for reimbursement in new indications

Bayer’s Xarelto (rivaroxaban) has been approved for reimbursement in new indications, Affari Italiani reported on Monday.
Xarelto 10 mg can now be reimbursed for deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism (PE) and prevention of recurrent DVT, the online newspaper said.

Roche’s entrectinib discovered, developed by Italy’s Nerviano

Roche’s entrectinib was discovered and developed in its early stages by Italian company Nerviano Medical Sciences, Il Giorno reported on Monday.
The drug has received priority review from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The paper described it as an “extraordinarily important” new treatment. Numerous human trials have demonstrated entrectinib’s effectiveness in lung cancer.
The paper described as a paradox the fact that Roche will receive the majority of the earnings for the drug while NMS, despite inventing it, will only get a minimum share.
Il Giorno said that the company’s research centre is now known internationally and it has shown its ability to attract important groups as partners. But that does not make up for the fact those who discovered and developed the drug will not see much of a return, the paper said.

Fast growth in investment in big data and artificial intelligence

Investments in big data and artificial intelligence are growing fast, according to Thursday’s Il Sole 24 Ore.
The paper was reporting on a recent conference called ‘The evolving role of the medical scientist in the digital era.’ Figures presented at the event showed that investments in this field have tripled since 2011.
One of the fastest growing areas is imaging where advances have allowed increasingly reliable and accurate diagnosis. According to the paper, the aim is to integrate diagnostics data into the other digital information about patients.
The increasing complexity of modern medicine has made this a priority, it added. Artificial intelligence will bring better therapeutic strategies for patients so they are neither over-treated nor under-treated and have less side effects.
Health systems struggling to remain sustainable can benefit from this approach. Only one in four patients may be eligible for immunotherapies. In the future it could be possible to identify them through Big Data, freeing up doctors for other jobs.
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