Press review

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Delay on NICE decision for AstraZeneca's Lynparza in breast cancer

LONDON, 18 Apr (APM) - The Times on Tuesday covered the lack of access in the England for AstraZeneca's Lynparza (olaparib) in breast cancer.
It said that HTA body NICE has put the appraisal process on hold until mid-July after AstraZeneca asked to include "key additional data".
A spokeswoman for NICE told the paper: "We are working to ensure access for patients with BRCA-mutated metastatic breast cancer as quickly as possible."
Paul Workman, chief executive of the UK Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) said: "It’s taking far too long for pioneering drugs to reach patients and we need to do more to fast-track the most exciting new treatments into the NHS."
The ICR said in a report in December that red tape in research and approval processes meant that NHS patients were waiting longer for new cancer drugs. Between 2000 and 2008 it took an average of 12.7 years to take a drug from patent to recommendation from NICE. From 2009 to 2016 the average was 14.1 years.

Former director of Ireland's HSE criticises 'two-tier' system for cancer drugs

A former director-general of Ireland's Health Service Executive (HSE) has described a two-tier drugs treatment system for cancer patients as "terrible" and said it will have a far-reaching impact, according to The Times on Monday.
The paper said certain cancer drugs for breast cancer and melanoma would be made available to patients with health insurance from VHI Healthcare. In a letter the insurer said it would provide its patients with access to the breast cancer drug Perjeta (pertuzumab) and immunotherapies such as Tecentriq (atezolizumab), Keytruda (pembrolizumab) and Opdivo (nivolumab).
However, the HSE is only making funding available for the drugs for patients with advanced stage-four cancer.
In Ireland, insurance providers have usually followed the lead of the HSE in approving treatments.
Tony O’Brien, the former head of the HSE, said: "This is a terrible and [will be a] far-reaching precedent. Historically, private insurers tracked the public approvals process with about a six-month lag. Over the past few years that public approvals process has run into the sand."

EMA resumes legal battle for £500 million London rent bill

The European Medicines Agency (EMA), which is leaving the UK because of Brexit, has resumed its legal battle to avoid paying a £500 million rent bill for its London headquarters, said The Times on Wednesday.
In February a High Court judge dismissed the agency’s claims that its 25-year lease of offices in Canary Wharf would be legally "frustrated" as a result of Brexit. However, the agency lodged an eleventh-hour appeal against the judgment on Monday, the deadline.
A hearing is expected in the autumn, with a decision by the end of the year.

UK pharmacy regulator launches new safety rules

The UK's pharmacy regulator General Pharmaceutical Council (GPC) has put in place new rules to protect people from buying inappropriate drugs from online pharmacies and to regulate access to addictive medications, the Guardian said on Tuesday.
Safeguards include obliging pharmacy websites not to allow a patient to choose a prescription-only medicine and its quantity before an appropriate consultation has taken place.
Pharmacy staff are also being trained to identify requests for medicines that are inappropriate, including identifying multiple orders to the same address, and measures are being made to carry out identity checks on people obtaining medicines.

Diabetes prescriptions on rise in England

The Daily Mail at the weekend said prescriptions for diabetes drugs in England have soared by 70% in a decade with almost 55 million written last year.
The paper said experts warned the escalating use is being driven up by the UK's "spiralling obesity crisis".

New gene therapy in development for 'bubble boy' disease

The Times on Thursday reported on a new gene therapy developed to treat 'bubble boy' disease, a condition in which babies lacking a functioning immune system must live in a sterile plastic environment.
In a trial involving eight children, scientists replaced the faulty gene that causes the condition, said the paper.
The children are now producing functional immune cells that help to fight infections. Antibody-producing B cells were also present, a first for SCID-X1 infants treated with gene therapy.

Purdue tried to buy Reckitt's addiction business in in 2014

The FT at the weekend accused OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma of fuelling the U.S. opioid epidemic with an attempt in 2014 to take over Reckitt Benckiser's addiction treatment business.
Purdue made the previously unreported approach after Reckitt started a strategic review of its pharma business, said the FT, citing two people familiar with the matter.
Reckitt's form pharma division, now known as Indivior, makes opioid replacement therapies to wean addicts off heroin and prescription painkillers, including Purdue's OxyContin.

Pharma Q1 results

The FT on Tuesday covered results from Johnson & Johnson, saying the first-quarter figures were hit by legal expenses related to claims asbestos was found in its baby powder. However, it still best estimates in terms of revenue and earnings (APMHE 62695).
The paper on Wednesday also covered Roche's first-quarter results. It said its results in the first three months were "strong". U.S. sales grew 14% while Europe remained "weak", it added (APMHE 62704).

Half of UK statin users miss healthy cholestrol target

Half of UK patients who are prescribed statins fail to reach healthy cholesterol levels within two years of starting the treatment, research suggests, The Times reported on Tuesday.
The results, experts said, could indicate that patients are failing to stick to prescribed regimes or doctors are not prescribing high enough doses.
Genetics might also play a role, leading researchers to call for more personalised care to tackle high cholesterol and the related increased risks of heart disease and stroke.
The study, published online in the journal Heart, used data from 165,411 UK patients. It found that two years after first being prescribed the drug, 51% of patients had not reduced their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by 40% or more, a target set by NICE.
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