Press review

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French pharma body expects extraordinary progress in healthcare over next decade

PARIS, 15 Mar (APM) - The next 10 years will be spellbinding in terms of healthcare innovation, reports Le Figaro on Friday (p.12), quoting Leem’s general manager Philippe Lamoureux as saying that “breakthrough drugs, which were rare, will arrive on the market more and more often”.
Lamoureux’s forecasts are based on Leem’s healthcare industry report (Santé 2030) which was published on Thursday. It was carried out by Leem and the think tank Futuribles in association with 30 experts.
Leem noted that as of July 2017, at least 4,006 clinical trials were ongoing in oncology. The report states that progress will be made in immunotherapy combinations, treatments that target cell DNA and targeted treatments. The report continues that within 10 years, new algorithms will help doctors create individualised treatments for patients and that quality of care will become an area of research in its own right.
Alzheimer’s disease is mentioned elsewhere in the report, with the hope that by 2020 the disease will be understood and able to be treated before symptoms start to appear.
New tools could help understand of where the abnormal proteins that accumulate in the brain come from. The topics of ‘intelligent’ insulin which activates as glycaemia levels increase for treating type 1 diabetes and targeted treatments on a biomolecular level for eye diseases are also covered in the report.

French pharma body Leem calls for new drug financing models

The innovative treatments that will arise over the next decade will need a different financing model, according to pharma body Leem’s healthcare industry report (Santé 2030) reports Le Figaro (p.12) on Friday.
Leem is promoting the idea that a drug’s price fluctuate over time in accordance to its recorded real world performance. It says that this means price agreements could be made in a shorter period of time, thus cutting the time it takes for a patient to get drug access (APMHE 62272).
The paper notes that Novartis is already an ardent supporter of this model, trialling it in the pricing of its CAR-T therapy Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel) in some hospitals in the U.S.
Leem also advocates setting a drug’s price by indication, as a medicine's efficacy can vary between the niche indication it is originally approved for and another, where the target population is wider.

Sanofi Aventis to cut more than 200 posts

Sanofi Aventis is to cut between 230 and 256 posts, reported L’Humanité on Monday (p.9) (APMHE 62206). Posts in the group’s sales and marketing departments are set to go, with medical sales representatives hit especially hard. The management of the group, which made €6.82 billion profit in 2018, said the cuts were necessary to preserve competitiveness and respond better to healthcare professionals’ needs.
The CGT and CFDT were reported as criticising the plan, with the CGT pointing out that the government is silent on the matter despite the vast number of tax credits it gives Sanofi and the CFDT saying it will have a psychosocial impact on employees.
Sanofi justified the job cuts by saying the French healthcare sector is undergoing a profound transformation in France, reported Les Echos on Monday (p.20).
The French market has stagnated for several years at around €50 billion. The pressure to cut drug prices is high and drug volumes sales are not changing. Moreover, the economic daily continued, cancer and speciality drugs, which are on the rise, require more targeted and less widespread marketing, as they are prescribed by specialists, not general practitioners.

Overview of Ipsen’s decision makers

Ipsen confirmed its place in cutting edge biotech with its acquisition of Clementia Pharmaceuticals in February, Les Echos highlighted in its overview of Ipsen’s decision makers on Monday (p.29).
The company, founded in 1929, was originally focused on general medicine, but is one of the latest pharma companies, including Sanofi and Roche, to invest in this sector.
Les Echos’ overview gave a brief oversight into the background of the pharma’s decision makers, from CEO David Meek’s 25 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry and the move towards oncology to ensure the company’s future, to Harout Semerjian, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Ipsen, who previously worked for over a decade at Novartis.

Servier signs R&D deal with Oncodesign in Parkinson’s

Servier has signed a R&D agreement with French biotech Oncodesign to research LRRK2 inhibitors in treating Parkinson’s disease, reported Les Echos on Tuesday (p.27) (APMHE 62244).
The agreement sees Servier making an initial payment of €3 million to Oncodesign and covering the research, clinical development and marketing costs. Servier will have the option of being the exclusive licence holder.

Head of Novartis’ generic subsidiary Sandoz steps down

The head of Novartis’ generic subsidiary Sandoz Richard Francis is leaving at the end of March, reports Les Echos on Friday, promoting speculation that Novartis is looking to sell off its generics manufacturer (APMHE 62255).
Francis has presided over Sandoz since 2014 and in his official declaration said he did not intend to dedicate several years of life restructuring Sandoz.
This sudden departure has restarted rumours that Novartis has decided to sell Sandoz, the paper continued. Novartis’ head Vas Narasimhan denied the rumours in February, saying that Sandoz was still a key part of the group. However, Novartis did sell the U.S. rights of around 300 of its generics to the Indian pharma Aurobindo for $1 billion last September.

New head of Roche Diagnostics France

Mark Osewold is the new head of Roche Diagnostics France, reported Les Echos in a brief on Thursday (p.33). Osewold, who has a degree in law and business administration, joined Roche in 1998. He became Roche Diagnostics country manager for the Baltic countries in 2013 and was appointed general manager of Roche Diagnostics in the Netherlands in 2016, before taking up his new position.

French biotech Genfit listed on U.S. Nasdaq

Genfit is now listed on Nasdaq in the U.S. reports Les Echos in a brief on Friday (p.20). Genfit specialises in liver diseases and is looking to raise funds for its drug elafibranor which is currently in Phase III for fatty liver disease as well as another less well-spread liver disease. The company is also looking to develop a diagnosis test, the economic daily continues.

Patients to sue Merck Sharp & Dohme over Propecia

About 10 patients announced on Monday that they are going to take Merck Sharp & Dohme to court over its hair-loss drug Propecia (finasteride), reported Le Parisien in a brief on Tuesday (p.12). The patients say they were not given enough information about the drug’s irreversible side effects, which include erectile dysfunction and lack of libido.

Head of supermarket Leclerc wants to sell OTC drugs in store

President of French supermarket Leclerc Michel-Edouard Leclerc wants to sell over-the-counter (OTC) drugs in store for 20% to 30% less than they are now, reports Le Parisien on Friday.
At the moment, OTC drugs can only be sold in pharmacies. However the European Commission (EC) recently asked France to make it legal for supermarkets to sell them. While France’s competition authority supports the idea, the pharmacists’ association is against the idea says Leclerc. His suggestion is to create an association for pharmacists who work in supermarkets, so they are subject to the same rules and regulations as their colleagues working elsewhere.

No link between MMR vaccine and autism

A Danish study carried out on more than 650,000 children over more than 10 years has shown there is no link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism, reported Le Parisien on Monday (p.15).
The researchers compared the number of autism diagnoses in children who received the vaccine and those who did not and found no difference. The researchers said in the 'Annals of Internal Medicine' that the study strongly supports the fact that the vaccine does not increase the risk of autism, does not trigger autism in children with risk factors and is not associated with cases involving autism after vaccination.
In 2016, it looked like measles had practically disappeared in Europe, the paper continued, with only 5,200 cases. However, in 2018 more than 41,000 caught the disease. France is one of the countries where the lowest number of children are vaccinated (80%) and has seen 288 cases since the beginning of the year.
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