Press review

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CAR-T therapies spotlighted at ASCO

PARIS, 7 Jun (APM) - CAR-T therapies have been spotlighted at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago, Le Monde Science & Medecine (p2) and La Croix (p7) reported on Wednesday.
Le Monde noted that there is still work to be done in the CAR-T space, however, especially for solid tumours.
The newspaper reminds that Novartis's Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel) and Gilead's Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel) were approved in Europe in summer 2018 - both for blood cancers - and that other CAR-T approvals are awaited.
La Croix also spoke about immunotherapy, and reported the presentation of a study at the ASCO meeting, showing sharply improved overall survival rates for Novartis' kinase inhibitor Kisqali (ribociclib), for breast cancer.
Both articles marked the high cost of immunotherapies.

Merck & Co ready to supplant Roche in oncology

Merck & Co could be ready to supplant Roche concerning oncology drugs, Les Echos reported on Thursday (p21).
The newspaper explains that immunotherapies have a central role in oncology, even if other treatments still represent 70% of the market.
Roche has been a key leader in the space with Tecentriq (atezolizumab), though Merck's Keytruda (pembrolizumab) is set to supplant its competitor, it said. The drug represented $7.2 billion in turnover for the company for 2018.
Merck also supplants competitors including Bristol-Myers Squibb's Yervoy (ipilimumab) and Opdivo (nivolumab), and AstraZeneca.

Step in the fight against pancreatic cancer with Lynparza

AstraZeneca/Merck & Co's oral PARP inhibitor Lynparza (olaparib) was shown in a Phase III trial to extend progression free survival (PFS) in patients with pancreatic cancer with BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutation, Le Figaro (p12) and Les Echos (p21) reported on Tuesday (APMHE 63201).
Preliminary results were presented at ASCO and simultaneously published in the New England Journal of Medecine (NEJM).

Benefits of olanzapine in the treatment of cancer-related nausea

The benefits of antipsychotic drug olanzapine for a new indication - cancer-related nausea -have been confirmed, according to two studies presented at ASCO, Le Figaro (p13) said on Wednesday.
Olanzapine is normally prescribed for schizophrenia. However, used to cope with side effects of aggressive chemotherapy, the drug helped to prevent more than 90% of vomiting.
One of the studies confirms that olanzapine should be used with aggressive chemotherapy. The other study points out that the drug is an good alternative to Merck & Co's antiemetic Emend (aprepitant).

Bayer to sell its animal health division

Bayer is in talks with various private equity firms bidding for its animal health division, Le Figaro reported on Tuesday (p27).
The German group has been weakened by the purchase of Monsanto, last year.
The planned sale, which is part of an heavy economic reduction strategy, could help contain costs and regain the investor confidence, the newspaper noted.

French homeopathy specialist Boiron prepares its defence

France's Boiron is preparing to defend the reimbursement of homeopathy to France's healthcare technology assessment body HAS later this month, reported Le Figaro (p27) on Thursday.
A hearing is planned on 12 June and it is the last chance for the company to convince HAS that the continued reimbursement of homeopathy is legitimate.
The final notice from the HAS should be published at the end of June.

Aspen's French site growing

South African group, Aspen, has increased its production of injectables, Le Monde reported, in its Wednesday's edition (p16).
This increase is possible thanks to the buyout of GlaxoSmithKline’s norman site, five years ago.
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