Press review

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Industry must turn words into action on antibiotic development

Country : Israel, U.S., UK, Japan

Keywords :
LONDON, 29 Mar (APM) - Health experts have intensified criticism of the pharmaceutical industry for failing to respond to the rise of drug-resistant superbugs by developing new antibiotics, at a meeting called by Wellcome, the London-based medical research charity, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.
Jim O’Neill, author of a 2016 UK government review of antimicrobial resistance, accused pharma companies of "spewing out nonsense about their commitment to producing antibiotics".
"If they produced one-tenth of the commitment in their words, we would be getting somewhere," he said.
Lord O’Neill, chair of the Chatham House think-tank and a former Goldman Sachs chief economist, was supported by Tim Jinks, head of Wellcome’s drug-resistant infections programme, who said: "Science can’t solve this problem on its own. We need to overhaul the economics to fix the broken antibiotic market."
"Small biotech companies are becoming the innovation engine for antibiotics," said Jinks. But he said they needed the resources of big pharma companies to pick up promising new drugs and take them through clinical trials into the market.

New York sues Purdue and Sackler family over opioid crisis

New York’s attorney-general has accused Oxycontin maker Purdue Pharma of unlawfully distributing hundreds of millions of dollars to its owners the Sackler family, when it knew that it was facing significant liabilities from lawsuits related to the U.S. opioid crisis, the FT reported on Thursday.
Letitia James claims that Purdue, the maker of OxyContin, knew by 2014 that it faced investigations by state attorneys-general that could result in settlements and judgements that would cost the company. James alleges that Purdue continued to pay the Sacklers "significant distributions" and send money to offshore companies. 
Purdue warned this month that it is considering bankruptcy and the suit accuses the drugmaker of using the threat of collapse to intimidate states that are suing it. 
"Despite knowing that Purdue faces certain liabilities to the states, including New York State, Purdue — at the Sackler defendants’ direction — continued to pay the Sackler families hundreds of millions of dollars each year in distributions during the relevant time period for no consideration and in bad faith," the complaint reads. 
"As a result of defendants’ unlawful distributions to the Sackler families, assets are no longer available to satisfy Purdue’s future creditor, the State of New York."
James filed what she called the "the nation’s most extensive lawsuit" against a raft of drugmakers and distributors, expanding a previous action against Purdue, the FT added.
The amended complaint comes just days after Purdue agreed to settle a similar case in Oklahoma for $270 million (APMHE 62404).

Sackler Trust halts charity donations amid opioid scandal

The Sackler Trust, a philanthropic organisation run by Purdue Pharma, is pausing all new donations to medical science, healthcare, education and the arts in the UK, both the FT and the Guardian said on Monday.
The trust has given millions of donations to UK organisations but these gifts have come under fire in recent months due to Purdue’s links to the opioid abuse crisis in the U.S.
The trust, which claims to have donated more than £60 million to UK organisations since 2010, has now said all philanthropic giving will temporarily cease so the issue "will not be a distraction for institutions that are applying for grants", said the Guardian. Commitments that have already been made will be honoured.

Biogen share buyback scheme after trial failure

Biogen announced plans for a $5 billion share buyback scheme after shares crashed due to a late-stage failure in Alzheimer’s, the FT said on Monday.
The new programme comes in addition to $1.7 billion remaining under a share repurchase plan authorised in August 2018, said the FT.

NHS to pay for AstraZeneca's breakthrough cancer drug

One of AstraZeneca's most important new cancer drugs has been approved (APMHE 62446) for NHS use in a coup for the pharmaceutical company and the biggest advance in lung cancer treatment in the UK in 20 years, The Telegraph reported on Thursday.
Imfinzi is part of a new class of immuno-oncology therapies that help the body's immune system fight disease. In clinical trials it significantly increased the life expectancy of people with a certain type of lung cancer, called stage three non-small cell lung cancer.
NICE, the government body that decides which drugs should be paid for by the NHS, has placed Imfinzi into the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF), allowing doctors for the first time in 20 years to access a new treatment that improves survival in patients with this type of cancer, the paper said.
Almost 6,250 people in England are diagnosed with stage three non-small cell lung cancer each year. Stage three is when the cancer has spread within the lungs, but not to other parts of the body.

Hope for Alzheimer's?

A breakthrough drug designed to treat liver infections could be an unexpected therapeutic for people with Alzheimer's disease, the Mail Online reported on Wednesday.
Scientists found lonafarnib, an FDA-approved drug, curbed brain degeneration and improved behavioural symptoms in mice, it said.
The drug was originally designated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a therapy for hepatitis D, a liver infection virus transmitted through body fluids.
In the new study, scientists genetically engineered mice to develop tangles of tau, a protein thought to cause Alzheimer's.
But lonafarnib prevented their formation.
Dr Israel Hernandez, from the University of California, said: "Although tau-related diseases including Alzheimer's disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy are serious public health problems, no disease-modifying treatment currently exists for these conditions. Generally, approaches to treatment have directly targeted the tau protein.
"However, few pharmacologic interventions directed toward tau pathways have reached clinical trials."

AstraZeneca and Daiichi in potential $6.9 billion cancer tie up

AstraZeneca's potential $6.9 billion cancer tie up (APMHE 62461) with Daiichi Sankyo was covered in Friday's FT. The paper said the Japanese pharma expects trastuzumab deruxtecan, to become a blockbuster with anticipated peak annual sales of more than $4.5 billion.
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