Press review

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Revenues from fake drugs market estimated at $200 billion, says France's Le Figaro

PARIS, 26 Apr (APM) - Revenues from fake drugs market are estimated at $200 billion, or 20% of the global pharmaceutical market, compared with "only" $75 billion in 2006, reported Le Figaro on Wednesday (p. 20 -21).
Drugs' trafficking is more lucrative to criminal organisations than cigarettes or heroin, according to the International institute of research against counterfeit medicine (Ircam).
The criminal activity has become easier with the internet: 20 new pharmacies open every day, 90% of which are illegal.
The 'Pangea' operation has been set up (116 countries involved) to tackle this traffic: in 2018, 3,671 websites were closed, 859 people were arrested and 500 tons of illegal drugs were seized.
It is reported that in sub-Saharan Africa, scientists estimated that fake medicines lead to 116,000 deaths from malaria annually. Likewise, between 72,000 and 169,000 children under the age of five die each year from pneumonia due to fake antibiotics.
In its double-page article, Le Figaro carries a report on the Sanofi laboratory at Tours, which analyses suspect medicines.

Phage therapy available soon in France

France’s drugs' regulator ANSM will deliver early access schemes (ATU) by early May to French company Pherecydes Pharma which produces bacteriophages, said Le Figaro on Wednesday (p. 11).
In 2016, ANSM set up a temporary specialist scientific committee (CSST) to determine the prerequisites for use of these phages.
In January 2019, the paper reported on a first serious study, 'Phagoburn' and which was published in The Lancet Infectious Disease. Even if it is somewhat disappointing, other studies are underway and some patients that were in therapeutic dead-ends benefited from this treatment, the paper said. In February 2019, ANSM set up another CSST for three months.
Le Figaro also reported on the mechanism of phages and on cases of French people travelling to Georgia (where phage-therapy is allowed) to access these treatments.

Malawi: first full-scale test of malaria vaccine

Malawi has launched the first full-scale test of an experimental malaria vaccine, with Ghana and Kenya following next week, reported Le Figaro in a brief on Tuesday (p. 13).
This vaccination campaign is dedicated to children under the age of two. The World Health Organization is seeking to vaccinate 120,000 children in each country up to 2020.
Named Mosquirix, the vaccine was developed by GlaxoSmithKline and the NGO Path, and financed by the Global alliance for vaccines and immunisation (Gavi), the Global fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the United nations children's fund (Unicef).

Anti-epileptic drugs pose risks to unborn children

France’s drugs' regulator ANSM published an evaluation report on Thursday revealing that more than half of the anti-epileptic drugs (21 examined) pose a serious risk to a fetus, of malformations, abnormalities of the visual field and stunted growth, Le Parisien said on Thursday (p. 10).
For Sanofi's Depakine (sodium valproate) the risk of malformations increases from four to five-fold, for Alepsal and Gardenal (phenobarbital), Epitomax (topiramate) and Mysoline (primidone), it increases three-fold.
For Tégrétol (carbamazepine) and Di-Hydan (phenytoine), it increases between two-fold and three-fold. Five molecules are potentially at risk, and for three others, the increased risk is not convincing. There are no data for seven other molecules.
Le Monde (brief p 7) and La Croix (p 7) also reported on the story.

Monsanto's purchase triggers Bayer share price slump

Since the acquisition of Monsanto, the reputation of German group Bayer and its stock market valuation have collapsed, said La Croix on Thursday (p.1 to 3).
The group holds its general meeting on Friday, and the atmosphere is set to be tense, the paper predicts.
Goldman Sachs evaluated that the 11,200 (counting ending in January 2019) initiated procedures against Monsanto could cost between €36 and €80 billion for Bayer.
Since the first conviction in August, Bayer's shares have lost 40% of their value.
On Wednesday, Le Monde portrayed Werner Baumann, Bayer's CEO as someone who "gives the impression of walking on the edge of an immense precipice".
Two other papers, in Les Echos (p 15) and in Le Figaro (p 24), also cover this topic on Friday.

Lessons from the A(H1N1) flu epidemic

Le Monde Sciences & Médecine (p 1) questioned on Wednesday the lessons learned by the WHO and French authorities after the A(H1N1) influenza pandemic.
According to this article, pessimists disagreed with optimists regarding progress made by international, European and French authorities.
On the scientific side, some experts maintain that there are still problems with production, while others affirm that progress has been made in this field over the past few years.
Le Monde refers to changes since the 2009 pandemic: mistrust towards vaccines has grown (for instance, 450 cases of narcolepsy have been reported after these vaccines) and social networks have become an important issue.

Psoriasis competition between AbbVie and Janssen intensifies

Le Figaro covers on Friday competition between Janssen and AbbVie over psoriasis, with AbbVie gaining U.S. approval on 24 April to sell Skyrizi (risankizumab) (APMHE 62751).
The Janssen's product has been authorised since November 2017 in Europe and has been marketed for two months in the U.S.
The two pharmaceutical companies want to replace curren top medicines for psoriasis: Cosentyx (secukinumab), Taltz (ixekizumab) and Kyntheum (brodalumab).

Wealth of Sackler family, owner of Purdue Pharma

Le Monde on Friday (p 16) profiles the Sackler family, owner of Purdue Pharma, whose flagship product is OxyContin (opioid), which is accused of being the main reason of the health crisis in the United States.
This drug made the Sackler's fortune. Their wealth is estimated by Bloomberg to be $13 billion.
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