Press review

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Bayer's shares plunge after unfavourable jury verdict on glyphosate

BERLIN, 22 Mar (APM) - Bayer's shares plunged by up to 12% on Wednesday after a U.S. jury said that its glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup causes cancer, reported Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) (p1 and 22) and Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) (p22) on Wednesday and FAZ (p1 and 15), Handelsblatt (p16) and SZ (p3 and p15) on Thursday.
The jury's decision (APMHE 62320) is a major blow for Bayer, as the trial has been set up in the most favourable way for the company and is a so-called 'bellwether trial' intended to help determine the range of damages and define settlement options for the hundreds of other lawsuits, reported Handelsblatt and FAZ.
Bayer had not expected this conclusion as the company keeps saying that "the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer".
It also puts Bayer's CEO Werner Baumann in a difficult situation as many shareholders make him responsible for the 33% share price fall within a year.
Newspapers have reported that the shareholders' general assembly of on 26 April might be turbulent.

Criticism for Spahn's plan to ban discounts for mail-order pharmacies

SZ on Friday (p4) criticises Health Minister Jens Spahn's proposal to ban discounts for mail-order pharmacies by maintaining a fixed price for prescription drugs (APMHE 62329), saying he "serves the German pharmacists' lobby instead of fulfilling his task as a minister".
It remains unclear whether Spahn's plan is in line with a 2016 ruling of the European Court of Justice that should force Germany to provide equal market opportunities to all European pharmacies, reported Handelsblatt on Wednesday (p8), SZ (p15) and Die Welt (p12) on Thursday.

Merck KGaA invests €1 billion in Darmstadt

Merck will invest €1 billion in its headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany until 2025, to "secure the future viability of company headquarters as a central science and technology hub" reported FAZ on Thursday (p18) (APMHE 62335).
The announcement was made as Merck and its works council had agreed on a "comprehensive site agreement" to secure the future viability of the company's headquarters as a science and technology location.
As part of the new agreement, the existing employment guarantee, due to expire in 2021, will be extended until 2025.

Stada invests in manufacturing and recruits abroad

Generic drug maker Stada plans to invest a single-digit million euros sum in manufacturing and to hire a few hundred employees worldwide in 2019, reported FAZ on Wednesday (p38)
CEO Peter Goldschmidt said that that Stada intends to recruit only at international locations while the number of employees at Stada's headquarters should remain roughly the same.
Stada announced on Tuesday it generated €2.33 billion sales in 2018, a 1% increase in reported terms compared with 2017.

Biogen's shares slump 27% on Alzheimer's flop

Biogen's shares on Thursday lost 27% after the announcement of the failure of two Phase III trials on aducanumab in Alzheimer's disease, reports FAZ on Friday (p19) (APMHE 62348).
Biogen and its partner Eisai justified the termination with the fact that it was unlikely that the studies would meet their primary endpoint on completion.
"This disappointing news demonstrates the complexity of treating Alzheimer's," said Biogen's CEO Michel Vounatsos.

Access to Gilead's Sovaldi obstructed by high therapy costs

High therapy costs for hepatitis C virus (HCV) drug Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) are obstructing access worldwide, leading Doctors without Borders and 37 other organisations to challenge Gilead's patent in court, Die Welt reported on Monday (p20).
U.S.-based Gilead commented it has partnerships with generics manufacturers to ease access to Sovaldi, Die Welt said.
A French study in The Lancet on 10,000 patients with HCV found that Gilead's Sovaldi reduced mortality by 52% after 33 months - but many of the estimated 71 million patients worldwide could not be treated because of the price.

Rani Therapeutics develops 'robotic biologic pill'

U.S. start-up Rani Therapeutics is developing RaniPill, a "robotic biologic pill" designed to replace injections of biologics, reports weekly Wirtschaftswoche on Friday (p72-73).
RaniPill is a capsule containing an active ingredient that moves through the stomach intact and then reaches the intestine where it delivers the drug into the intestinal wall.
The start-up has completed the first human safety study after more than 100 animal studies on antibodies, peptides and proteins. At least three years are needed to get the first approval - one for each active ingredient contained in the capsule.

Euronext offers biotech start-ups training for IPO

Euronext organised a free "IPO training" for biotech and medical technology companies, reported Handelsblatt on Tuesday (p20-21).
European biotech and medical technology companies complain that they lack capital for growth in Europe whereas U.S. investors are more willing to invest and take risks.
In 2018, 67 biotech and medical technology companies - nine were ex-U.S. companies- while in Europe, there were 11 IPOs in the same period.
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