MILAN, 21 June (APM) - Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has inaugurated a biobank to be used to cryopreserve 380,000 biological specimens which can used for research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Corriere della Sera reported on Thursday.
The opening ceremony took place at Rome’s Gemelli Polyclinic which will house the biobank.
The 380,000 specimens have been donated by ALS patients. The facility has ten containers with the capacity to cryopreserve at temperatures of between -20°C and -190°C. A catalogue will be compiled which can be consulted by Italian and international scientists. The biobank will be managed by XBioGem.
There are more than 6,000 Italians with ALS, or motor neurone disease as it is also known. The patients association AISLA said that it is the first time that scientists will have access to data of this sort.
The head of the Gemelli clinic, Giovanni Raimondi, described it as a constructive example of what partnerships between industry and hospitals can do.
Prime Minister Conte said it highlighted the need to put more resources into scientific investigation. "I will return to the duties of my office in the knowledge that we must invest a lot in research and I assure you that I will do that," he said.
Proposal for safer drug prescribing pilot
Legislation has been proposed to start a pilot project to ensure that drugs prescribing in Italy is safer and more appropriate, Quotidiano Sanità reported on Tuesday.
The draft law foresees regions setting up centres for the management of pharmacovigilance. If it is started, the pilot project will have €10 million funding and run for three years.
The regional centres will send data to Italy's health ministry which will report back to parliament at the end of the project, the paper said.
Angela Ianaro, a member of the governing Five Star Movement, who proposed the law to set up the pilot scheme, said it is aimed at having more data about drugs use.
She noted that Italy’s drugs spending has risen 60% in the last ten years to €25 billion. The number of adverse reactions has also increased significantly, she was reported as saying.
Italian pharma exports surged almost 40% in April
Italy’s pharma exports surged in April, jumping almost 40% compared to the same month in 2018, according to Wednesday’s Il Sole 24 Ore.
Drugs sales from Italy to the U.S. more than doubled compared to the same period last year. The pharma sector had the highest rise in exports of any sector, posting a 39.1% jump, compared to the next best sector of food and agricultural products which rose 13.3%, the paper said.
The sharp increase in exports came despite the ‘Brexit boom’ in sales to the UK fizzling out after the deadline was put off until later in the year. Italy’s total exports to the UK continued to be buoyant, rising 3.4% but pharma exports slid 3.6%.
AZN appoints oncology specialists medical director, Stada appoints CEO
AstraZeneca has appointed an oncology specialist, Costanza Oliveros, to be its new medical director in Italy, About Pharma reported on Thursday.
She joined the group in 2010 as senior medical advisor in oncology. Since 2014, Oliveros has been oncology medical affairs chief. She and her team contributed to successful launches of Lynparza (olaparib) for ovarian cancer and Tagrisso (osimertinib) for lung cancer, the paper said.
Also on Thursday, the specialist publication reported that Stada has appointed a new country manager for Italy. Salvatore Butti will take over from Enrique Hausermann, the current CEO who is also president of Italy's generics manufacturers association AssoGenerici, in September. He has previously worked at Sanofi and Recordati.
Peter Goldschmidt, Stada’s CEO, thanked Hausermann for his time at the head of the company crediting him with having played a big role in developing the Italian subsidiary. Hausermann will stay on as a board member, he said.
Genoa doctors under investigation over gifts from pharma
An official investigation has been launched into 611 doctors in Genoa over gifts from pharma which it is suspected were made to influence drugs prescriptions, La Repubblica reported on Sunday.
The problem came to light after Italy’s public auditor found that a total of €14.9 million was given to the doctors in Genoa between 2015-2017. It is examining national health service accounts to see what financial damage the prescribing by the doctors may have done.
The original accusations against the doctors came from the consumers’ group Codacons, the paper said. However, an article in the U.S. publication The Oncologist also played a part in launching an investigation. It highlighted how pharma provides gifts to doctors to have more of their products prescribed, La Repubblica said.
The public prosecutor’s office in Genoa may start an official probe to see if charges can be brought against the doctors.