Press review

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AstraZeneca investing in digital technology

Country : Sweden, U.S., UK

Keywords :
LONDON, 22 Mar (APM) - UK pharma AstraZeneca is investing in digital technology to accelerate drug discovery and show the value of medicines, the FT said at the weekend.
The paper said that AZN mapped out its approach at a meeting of senior leaders in Sweden in late February.
AZN’s chief executive Pascal Soriot spoke to the FT on the subject, saying that digital tools can help collect and analyse the large amounts of data needed to determine the price of a product in the context of the wider value it can bring to a healthcare system, such as reduced heart attacks.
He said that in order to spread an outcomes-based pricing model, it is necessary “to build capabilities to collect real-world evidence [and] partner with payers on ensuring this data is collected, developing contracts that enable you to develop these metrics”.

UK must remain attractive for scientists after Brexit

The Times on Monday carried an article saying that the UK must remain an attractive destination for scientists after Brexit.
The paper said that researchers in the UK rely on EU partnerships for research collaborations, funding and freedom of movement for their teams.
“If there can be side-deals for fisheries, why sideline science?” said the article’s author Alice Gast, president of Imperial College London.
“Most of our international science is with European partners. Breakthroughs in HIV, clean energy and biodiversity rely on European collaborations. The feeling is mutual: our European peers want to continue frictionless partnership. An extension of British participation in the Horizon 2020 research programme and formal association with its successor Horizon Europe is essential, whatever form Brexit takes.”

EFPIA calls for EU leaders to do more to safeguard supply of drugs after Brexit

Pharma trade body EFPIA has called on EU leaders to do more to safeguard the supply of medicines after Brexit, the FT said on Tuesday.
EFPIA said that politicians had shown a “lack of focus” by prioritising the protection of other industries such as fisheries and finance, reported the FT.
The trade body’s requests include for the EU to allow medicines and medical devices quality-tested in the UK to be recognise in Europe and to prioritise the passage of medicines and pharmaceutical ingredients.

New depression treatments on way

The FT on Monday carried a feature on the future of depression treatment, inspired by the recent approval of Johnson & Johnson’s Spravato (esketamine) in the U.S.
The paper said the drug, which is similar to party drug ketamine, is the first new type of antidepressant since Eli Lilly launched Prozac more than 30 years ago.
This followed news in March that Allergan’s depression treatment rapastinel, which is also inspired by ketamine, flopped in clinical trials.
The article said that trials of depression drugs have high failure rates and that neuroscience is still in its infancy. However, it said there is hope, highlighting Sage Therapeutics’ brexanolone.

Bayer's shares down after legal setback in U.S.

Shares in Bayer fell after a U.S. court found its glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup played a “substantial factor” in causing the cancer of Edwin Hardeman, the FT said on Wednesday.
The paper said Bayer's shares were down 10% to $62.4, continuing a decline over the past 12 months. The FT said this is mostly as a result of investor concerns over the legal risk linked to glyphosate.
Bayer took control of Roundup as part of its acquisition of Monsanto last year.

FDA approves first drug for postnatal depression

The U.S. FDA approved Sage Therapeutics’ Zulresso as the first drug to treat postnatal depression, the Daily Mail said on Wednesday.
The paper said the IV drug, which is given over two and a half days, will cost $34,000 without insurance, plus costs for staying in a hospital or infusion centre.
The paper reported comments from Stephanie Hathaway, who was involved in the clinical trial to support approval after experiencing anxiety after the births of her daughters.
“I woke up from a nap, and the thoughts were gone. And they never came back,' Hathaway told NBC.
“And then hour after hour, I got my energy back. I got my appetite back. I was eating because I was actually hungry, not because people were making me eat.”

UK AI firm signs deal with Celgene

The Times on Friday covers UK-based AI specialist Exscientia’s three-year collaboration with Celgene to discover new drugs in oncology and immunology.
Exscientia, which employs 50 people at offices in Dundee and Oxford, uses algorithms and data analysis techniques to speed up the processes involved in identifying molecules that can be used in drug development, said the paper. It has previously signed deals with Roche, Sanofi and Glaxosmithkline.

Biogen's shares crash on Alzheimer’s failure

Biogen's shares were down 29% as it announced it was ceasing trials of an Alzheimer’s disease treatment it was investigating in partnership with Eisai, the FT said on Thursday.
The paper said the companies discontinued the Phase III studies of aducanumab after an analysis by an independent committee determined it was not likely to be effective. (APMHE 62348)
The drug is once of a long list of promising Alzheimer’s candidates that have disappointed in late stage testing, said the paper.
The FT carries a related feature on Friday asking what is next for research in Alzheimer’s.
The article quotes Brad Loncad, founder of Loncar Investments, who said the decision is “a blow” for the leading hypothesis in Alzheimer’s research: that you can stop symptoms by clearing the build-up of amyloid plaques in ageing brains that destroy connections between nerve cells.
“This is really the final data point that shows we do not really know what is causing this disease and how to make an impact with a pharmaceutical,” he said.
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