Press review

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Italy’s shortages of Parkinson’s drug Sinemet caused by pricing issues, parallel trade - patient group

MILAN, 17 May (APM) - Shortages of Sinemet for Parkinson's disease have been caused by pricing issues and parallel trade, the head of a patient group told Il Giornale, published on Wednesday.
The drug is a combination of levodopa and carbidopa, which helps patients replenish depleted cerebral dopamine. Production problems and the high costs of making carbidopa are said to have initially caused the problems as generics makers pulled out.
The president of Associazione Italiana Parkinsoniani, Gianni Pezzoli, told the paper that the pharmacy cost of Sinemet is €4.98 for 50 tablets. The pharmacy receives exactly half of the price meaning the manufacturer earns €2.49 for each packet sold, or 4.9 cents a tablet.
Pezzoli said it is clearly not an attractive business considering the packaging, transport and other costs. He said that Sinemet costs three or four times as much in neighbouring countries, predicting Italy’s shortages will continue as long as the price is so low. Parallel trade is a contributory factor precisely because higher prices can be found abroad.
For another Parkinson’s drug, Madopar, which is very similar to Sinemet, companies earn 7.8 cents per tablet, Pezzoli said. He believes that the prices of the two drugs should be the same.
The patient group’s head urged Italy to start producing its own drug. "(The health ministry) cannot leave tens of thousands of people without an essential drug. It should have it produced in the military (pharmaceutical) production site, if it does not want to depend on the pharmaceutical companies. Otherwise they should pay an average of prices in Europe and block exports," Pezzoli said.
The paper described it as a major problem because there are around 450,000 people with Parkinson’s disease in Italy.

Drug prices in Italy are not 'secret' despite confidentiality clauses

Drug prices are not 'secret' in Italy despite confidentiality clauses in reimbursement contracts, according a to a letter from a Tuscany procurement agency official which was published by Quotidiano Sanità on Saturday.
Andrea Messori, who works for ESTAR Toscana, noted that the health ministry and medicines agency AIFA want negotiations to be more transparent, a position which is opposed by the industry lobby group Farmindustria and academic experts.
He suggested the standoff means there is unlikely to be any immediate agreement about how to go forward. But Messori insisted that prices are not really confidential. This is because, when local health bodies procure products, anti-corruption rules require that the prices should be made public.
To demonstrate what he meant, he provided a link to public information about procurement of drugs by ESTAR.

MolMed’s sales up 42% in Q1, losses almost halved

MolMed saw its sales rise nearly 42% to €7.9 million in the first quarter while losses fell from €1.25 million in the same period last year to €670,000, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Wednesday.
The biotech’s CEO, Riccardo Palmisano, said: “(It has been) an excellent start to the year which shows organic growth in 2018 continuing and confirms our leadership role in cell and gene therapies.”
The chief executive noted that, among the main events in the first quarter, Germany approved a reimbursement price for the cell therapy Zalmoxis and a clinical trail for MolMed’s CAR-T therapy CD44V6 was authorised allowing it to make preparations to start testing.

More than 40% of drugs in development are personalised medicine

More than 40% of drugs in development are personalised medicine, according to Tuesday’s Il Sole 24 Ore.
The paper was reporting on a speech by the head of the industry body Farmindustria, Massimo Scaccabarozzi, at Bologna’s Festival of Medical Science.
He claimed around 10 years have been added to the average lifespan in the last 40 years with drugs playing an important role in the improvement. HIV infection has become a chronic disease, hepatitis C can be cured with new drugs in 99% of cases and there are now 3.4 million cancer patients in Italy still alive five years after diagnosis, he told the meeting.
The Farmindustria chief highlighted Emilia Romagna’s contribution to growth for the pharma industry. It is the second biggest investor in R&D in Italy after Lombardy. It is also the fifth largest exporter of drugs with around €1.3 billion of the region’s €2 billion pharma production going abroad, he said.

Italy’s pharma production fell 10% in March

Italy’s pharma production continued its slide, falling 10% in March, il Sole 24 Ore reported on Wednesday.
It was the worst performing sector, according to figures from the national statistics office Istat. Pharma orders were also down, tumbling 13% in March, again the worst performance of any sector.
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