Press review

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Innovative cancer treatments may become luxury goods, say German press

BERLIN, 10 May (APM) - Cancer treatments may become luxury goods in view of the high cost of new cancer drugs such as immuno-oncology drugs or CAR-T therapies, Wirtschaftswoche says on Friday (p16-22).
Many pharmaceutical companies bet on cancer drugs to become "cash cows". However, new drugs are launched with high prices despite being authorised on the basis of preliminary data and insufficient feedback on long-term effects, the weekly says. This combination of high cost and uncertain data could impact their uptake.
Several pharmaceutical companies are promoting pay for performance agreements as a possibility to limit payments to patients for whom the treatment is effective. However, such agreements are difficult to implement in Germany because of a limited access to patient data, Wirtschaftswoche says.

Bayer shareholder calls for new board members

One of Bayer's top shareholders, Deka Investment, openly called for quickly hiring new supervisory board members, reported Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) on Wednesday (p22).
There is "an urgent need" in hiring experts with a strong background in U.S. litigation and agricultural business, Deka's head of corporate management, Ingo Speich told FAZ. "We cannot wait until the next annual shareholders meeting."
The supervisory board currently "lacks sufficient expertise to properly assess the operational and legal risks of the Monsanto acquisition," he added.

German health minister receives backing for compulsory measles vaccination

German health minister Jens Spahn received backing from several health lobbies after he presented his plans to introduce compulsory measles vaccination for children attending daycare centres or schools on Sunday, reported FAZ (p1), Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) (p1, 4) and Die Welt (p11) on Monday.
Non-vaccinated children would be excluded from daycare centres while parents who do not vaccinate their school-age children would be fined by up to €2,500 (APMHE 62881).
The obligation would take effect from March 2020, provided that the parliament passed the draft law in due time.
However, noted SZ on Tuesday (p5), fining vaccination opponents may not contribute to change their minds.

Merck KGaA buys U.S. special materials manufacturer Intermolecular

Germany's Merck KGaA has acquired the Californian company Intermolecular for approximately $62 million, FAZ reported on Tuesday (p20).
Merck intends to expand its semiconductor business as Intermolecular develops advanced materials for several industries including semiconductors, consumer electronics, automotive and aerospace.

Merck KGaA expands cooperation with European Space Agency

Merck KGaA has expanded its current cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA) on biosensors, digitalisation and materials research, reported FAZ on Wednesday (p40).
Merck and Esa, which started a partnership in 2011, will work on high-performance materials, such as liquid crystal technologies, in vitro production of artificial meat (called 'clean meat') and the development of biointerfaces and data analysis tools.

Novartis 'broke open piggy bank' for Takeda's eye drug

Novartis broke open the piggy bank to buy Takeda's dry eye drug Xiidra (lifitegrast ophthalmic solution) in a deal worth up to $5.5 billion, FAZ says on Friday (p20) (APMHE 62926).
Novartis believes it can generate billions of dollars in long-term sales with Xiidra and thus strengthen its ophthalmic business.

Digital technologies to improve diabetes treatment

The use of digital technologies will further improve diabetes treatment, Handelsblatt said on Wednesday (p20-21).
Digital tools help monitoring blood glucose level and adjusting insulin doses taken by patients. In Germany around 400,000 out of 7 million diabetes patients are using continuous glucose monitoring systems and around 50,000 insulin pumps.
Several pharma companies, internally or in partnerships with digital companies, are working on digitally controlled insulin pumps.

Paul-Ehrlich-Institut remains located in Langen

The German regulatory body Paul-Ehrlich-Institut (PEI), in charge of biological drugs and vaccines, will move to a newly constructed building in the city of Langen, near Frankfurt, close to its current location, reported FAZ on Wednesday (p42) and Thursday (p44).
PEI has been looking for a new location for some years as its current building is too small to host its 800 employees and needs a renovation. Around €400 to €500 million will be invested in the new building.

Insys founder may be forced to sell its shares in Akorn

The founder of U.S. manufacturer Insys Therapeutics John Kapoor, found guilty in a in U.S. opioid bribery lawsuit, may be forced to sell its shares in the company but also in U.S. generic drug maker Akorn, reported Handelsblatt on Monday (p54).
Kapoor, who has stepped down as Insys CEO months ago, is also the majority shareholder in Akorn. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services can prohibit persons convicted of certain crimes from holding a 5% or greater stake in a company that receives federal health-care funds.
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