Press review

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Italy's hepatitis C eradication programme to focus on finding hidden infections

MILAN, 24 May (APM) - Italy's hepatitis C eradication programme is becoming more targeted as health service operators run out of easy-to-treat patients and start to look for hidden infections in specific parts of the population, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Wednesday.
More than 170,000 people have been treated with direct-acting antivirals since they were first introduced. That is well short of the target of 240,000 that was set at the outset in 2017 but still considered a good performance.
The paper was covering an event in southern Italy, 'Be Fast, Be Different', which has received unconditional financial support from AbbVie. It was part of a roadshow providing information about at-risk groups and about treatments available.
Massimo Andreoni, scientific director of the Italian infectious and tropical diseases society SIMIT, highlighted how direct-acting antivirals eliminate infection in about 95% of cases through an eight-week course of drugs.
He emphasised the need to uncover infection in specific groups of the population such as drug addicts, migrants and prison inmates. It is estimated that around 100,000 infected people in Italy have not been diagnosed and may be unaware they have the hepatitis C virus, the paper said.
According to Andreoni, drug addicts carrying HCV are the most important to find and not just because they do not realise they are infected. "It has been calculated that a drug addict is able to transmit HCV infection to at least 20 other subjects in three years, generating a virus reservoir that we have to fight and eliminate," he said.

New national health institute chiefs chosen

The health minister, Giulia Grillo, has decided who she wants as the new president and new director general of the national health institute, Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS), Il Fatto Quotidiano reported on Wednesday.
She has sent the names of the two candidates to the cabinet office. Silvio Brussaforo, a preventative medicine specialist, has been acting commissioner for the institute sine December and it is proposed he be appointed full time.
The previous president, Walter Ricciardi, resigned suddenly in December. He stepped down after deciding the government was taking an anti-science stance over some issues, especially vaccines, the paper said.
Brussaforo will officially become president, if his appointment is confirmed, while Andrea Piccioli, an official from the health ministry’s programming department, will become director general.

Public/private partnerships key to developing Italy’s pharma R&D

Public/private partnerships are essential if Italy is to bring its pharma research and development activities to the same level as drugs manufacturing, according to Monday’s Il Sole 24 Ore.
The paper was reporting on an event organised by branded industry lobby group Farmindustria and the Italian pharmacological society SIF. It was held at Milan University for students and researchers to highlight job opportunities.
Developing new drugs is in the public interest and therefore needs to be promoted. Italy has an important role in the production of drugs but has been less successful on the research side, the event was told.
As a result, SIF and Farmindustria have launched a new platform, 'Innovation Flow'. It is aimed at providing a window for researchers to make their R&D projects visible and attract finance.
It is hoped it will lead to partnerships and dialogue between public and private subjects in research projects to develop new medicines, the paper said.

Court rules in favour of local council's compulsory vaccination order

A court has ruled in favour of a local council's compulsory vaccination order, according to Wednesday’s Il Resto del Carlino.
Parents in Rimini, who were fined for not having vaccinated their child, appealed against the decision to the local administrative tribunal TAR di Emilia Romagna.
The court ruled that it was in the public interest to have compulsory vaccination to protect against common diseases. It ordered the parents to pay the costs of the case.
The Rimini council welcomed the decision, saying it clearly demonstrated that safeguarding health was paramount.

Seqirus' cell-based vaccine available for next flu season in Italy

Seqirus' cell-based vaccine Flucelvax Tera will be available in Italy for the 2019-2020 flu season, according to Wednesday's Il Sole 24 Ore.
A meeting in Rome this week looked at the possible benefits of the product. A study conducted in the U.S. using 1.3 million medical records showed it is 36% more effective, the conference was told. It also has faster production times, the paper said.
Paolo Bonanni, professor of hygiene at Florence University, said some viruses cultivated in eggs can undergo changes which diminish effectiveness. Cell-based production means the components of the virus provide more targeted protection and are therefore potentially more effective, he added.
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