Press review

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Brexit partly blamed for drug shortages in Spain

MADRID, 22 Mar (APM) - Daily ABC is reporting on Friday pharmacists’ association FEFE as saying that stockpiling of medicines in the UK because of fears of shortages caused by Brexit, has hurt supplies to other countries, including Spain.
The shortages will not affect those countries where drug prices are higher because providers will supply them first, ABC reports.
The newspaper quotes FEFE president Luis de Palacio as saying: “The ministry of health decides on drug prices, and they are lower than the [European] average. If they continue to fall, we will not be very attractive customers”.
Palacio told the newspaper that the situation does not call for alarm yet, with a number of alternative drugs to substitute those affected by shortages. However, he expressed his concern towards the future, “because there is no sign of improvement”.
Spanish regulator AEMPS said on its website that the situation is under control and there is no reason to worry.
Sources from branded pharma lobby Farmaindustria agreed that the shortages are a minor problem. “In most cases, there are equivalent medicines or alternative formulations with the same indication as those which are not available,” the sources say.
Farmaindustria representatives think the causes of shortages are “technical and logistic factors”, together with changes in authorisation procedures and economic variables. “Consecutive price drops can make it impossible to sell some medicines,” they warn.
They are demanding a dialogue between all stakeholders and the ministry in order to address the problem “in all its complexity”. This way drug shortages could be minimised, ABC reports.
Shortages in supplies of more than 200 drugs have been reported all week in a number of daily, regional newspapers and medical journals.

Spanish experts call for reimbursement of Gilead’s HIV PrEP

Approval of Gilead’s Truvada (emtricitabine+tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) would take Spain’s HIV prevention success rates up to European standards, experts in the field told financial Cinco Días.
On Thursday, the financial carried a lengthy story about Spain’s “failure” regarding early diagnosis and prevention of HIV.
According to the latest available data gathered in the HIV Epidemiologic Surveillance Report, published by the Spanish ministry of health at the end of last year, the number of new diagnoses of HIV in the country was 3,381 in 2018. This is quite a modest improvement compared with previous years, Santiago Moreno, head of infectious diseases at Ramón y Cajal Hospital in Madrid, said.
The number of new annual diagnoses in Spain is higher than the European average. “We cannot allow this, not in a country where the means to stop it exist,” Moreno said.
There is an estimated 150,000 people with the virus, of which 20% are not aware of their condition, the financial noted.
Cinco Días quoted Amaya Echevarría, managing director of infectious diseases at Gilead as saying most of the affected people are men. Half of these patients are diagnosed when the disease is in an advanced stage, which can substantially complicate treatment due to comorbidities, she added.
Epidemiologists think Spain should make a bigger effort to make Truvada available, the financial added. Generic versions of the drug are already available, it noted.
Truvada was approved in Europe in 2016 and is available in the UK, The Netherlands, Belgium, France and Portugal. In Spain, the ministry of health and regional healthcare authorities are discussing the best way to implement PrEP, ministry sources said.
In November, a clinical trial including 300 Spanish patients from different autonomous regions started with the support of Gilead and the ministry of health. Results are expected at some point mid-year, Cinco Días reported.

Health ministry denies J&J price rise for antidiarrheal drug

Johnson & Johnson has been denied a price rise of its popular antidiarrheal drug Fortasec (loperamide hydrochloride), daily El País reports on Friday.
This is the first time that the ministry has set a limit on the price of a non-reimbursed drug, the newspaper reports.
From 2012, when it was excluded from the list of reimbursed drugs, the price of this drug has more than tripled. The 20-capsule package was sold at €2.81 in 2012, its price is now €8.95. A total of 2.2 million packages of Fortasec are sold in Spain annually, El País notes.

Pfizer snaps up gene therapy specialist linked to former minister

Pfizer’s latest buy of gene therapy specialist Vivet (APMHE 62331), links the firm to former science minister Cristina Garmendia, financial Cinco Días reported on Wednesday.
Garmendia is on the board of Ysios Capital, one of the funds which supports Vivet.
Vivet is a Paris-based firm with Spanish roots. It was co-founded by Spanish researcher Gloria González-Aseguinolaza and its CEO is Eduardo Bravo, former head of Tigenix, Cinco Días noted.
Other relevant investors include Novartis Venture Fund and Roche Venture Fund, the financial added.
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