Press review

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Pressure increases on Bayer after second glyphosate trial defeat

BERLIN, 29 Mar (APM) - Pressure has increased on Bayer after it lost a second U.S. glyphosate trial, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) (p17), Handelsblatt (p20-21 and 24), Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) (p4) and Wirtschaftswoche (p44-46) report on Friday.
The $80 million awarded to plaintiff Erwin Hardeman on Thursday (APMHE 62449) adding to the $78 million granted in August in the Dewayne Johnson case, have raised questions on the total sum that Bayer would have to pay to settle the 11,000 lawsuits claiming glyphosate-based weed killer caused cancer.
According to SZ, questions have also arisen regarding the capacity of chief executive Werner Bauman to find the appropriate response. Baumann is the one who initiated the acquisition of glyphosate maker Monsanto and repeats that it was the right choice, although the court strategy has failed, SZ said.
Bayer's stability may be in jeopardy because of the 33% slump in the share price over the past year, pointed Der Spiegel on Saturday (p67) and Handelsblatt on Tuesday (p33).
In an interview with FAZ on Sunday (p19), Baumann assured that Bayer's management, himself included, has the full backing of the supervisory board (APMHE 62384).

Bayer and J&J settle U.S. Xarelto lawsuit

Bayer and Johnson & Johnson have agreed to settle around 25,000 U.S. lawsuits over their anticoagulant Xarelto (rivaroxaban) for a total of $775 million, reported Handelsblatt (p21) SZ (p22) FAZ (p23) and Die Welt (p9) on Tuesday. (APMHE 62399)
The sum will be shared equally between the two companies which do not admit liability but agreed on a settlement to avoid costs.

Merck KGaA launches hostile takeover offer for Versum

Merck KGaA on Tuesday launched a hostile $5.9 billion all-cash takeover offer for U.S. electronic materials maker Versum Materials after its initial unsolicited cash offer was turned down last month, reported FAZ (p22) and Die Welt (p11) on Wednesday.
Merck kept its offer price unchanged at $48 per share - compared with an all-share merger made by U.S. rival Entegris in January and valued at $39.20 per share.
Versum's board on Wednesday said it would review the offer, FAZ reported on Thursday (p25).

Merck KGaA invests €150 million in Swiss manufacturing plant

Merck announced a €150 million investment in its Swiss manufacturing plant in Aubonne to increase production of biopharmaceutical drugs, FAZ reports on Friday (p20).
This is intended to cover the increasing demand for drugs such as its new cancer drug Bavencio (avelumab) and products that are still in development.

Evotec's shares rise 5% on positive annual results

Shares of Evotec rose 5% on Thursday after the German biotech announced 42% sales growth in 2018 to €375 million and expectations of 10% growth in 2019, FAZ reports on Friday (p21).
Revenues increased due to growth in its base business in drug discovery alliance, milestone payments and the first full year contribution of drug discovery and development specialist Aptuit, acquired in 2017.

Health Minister considers compulsory measles vaccination for children

Health Minister Jens Spahn is considering making measles vaccination mandatory for children in day care centres and schools, reported FAZ (p16) and SZ (p6) on Wednesday (APMHE 62435).
Mandatory vaccination would make sense in community facilities and it would be possible to legally impose it, he said.

No closer to new Alzheimer's treatments

Biogen and Eisai's failure in Phase III study on aducanumab is only one in a series related to compounds targeting the brain-destroying protein beta amyloid, SZ reported on Monday (p14).
Following the disappointing news, Biogen's share price fell by more than a quarter and the company lost $16 billion in value.
It is obvious that amyloid therapies do not work even in the early stages of the disease and researchers need new approaches, John Hardy of University College in London and Hans-Ulrich Demuth from the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology in Leipzig, told FAZ.

Oxytocin shortages worry hospital pharmacists

German hospital pharmacists are worried about shortages of oxytocin used to trigger uterine contractions in childbirth, Die Welt reported on Monday (p12).
A delivery room cannot be operated in the absence of oxytocin and there is no alternative medicine, hospital pharmacist Andreas von Ameln-Mayerhofer told Die Welt.
Die Welt pointed out that two manufacturers - Rotexmedica and Hexal - are currently not allowed to market available batches in Germany for regulatory reasons: either because the high concentration batches are approved for the France, or because the batches do not carry the safety features that are mandatory in the EU newly implemented anti-counterfeit system.
On Monday, German Health Minister allowed import of oxytocin from other EU countries using a legislative provision allowing a derogation from standard purchasing procedures.
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