Press review

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Scientists predict end of cervical cancer fight

LONDON, 28 June (APM) - Cervical cancer could be eliminated in Britain within decades because the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has been so successful, The Times on Thursday reported scientists as saying.
Rates of infection by the cancer-causing viruses have fallen by 86% among young women aged 15 to 19 since they started being vaccinated in schools in 2008, researchers found.
The HPV vaccine prevents infection from human papillomavirus, a common group of viruses that are behind 90% of cases of cervical cancer.
A new meta-analysis of studies covering 60 million global patients, published in The Lancet, shows that HPV rates in teenage girls dropped by 83% on average across 14 western nations using the vaccine between 2007 and 2015.
The jab also led to a 51% drop in the number of those in the 15-19 age group found to have precancerous cells, which are caused by HPV and risk developing into cancer if not detected through smear tests and treated.
The authors of the study said the results provided "promising early signs that cervical cancer elimination might be possible if sufficient population-level vaccination coverage can be reached".

LifeArc becoming 'powerful force' in UK life sciences

The FT on Monday carried a featured on LifeArc, a UK charity that is developing as a "powerful force" in UK medical research.
The paper said the organisation has been enriched by £1 billion from the sale of its royalty interest in Merck & Co's cancer drug Keytruda (pembrolizumab) and is expanding into treatments for other diseases.
LifeArc's chief executive Melanie Lee told the FT that the charity is looking to be the UK champion of "translational research, with priority areas including cancer, infectious diseases and neuroscience".
It is also making outside investments, including £1.5 million for Ducentis BioTherapeutics, a start-up based in Oxfordshire that is working on treating diseases of the immune system.

U.S. approves 'female viagra'

U.S. regulators have approved Palatin Technologies/Amag Pharmaceuticals' Vyleesi (bremelanotide), the Guardian said at the weekend.
The paper said the drug is the latest attempt to come up with a "female Viagra" for women with low sexual desire.
The drug will compete with Sprout Pharmaceuticals' Addyi, a once-daily pill that was approved for hypoactive sexual desire disorder in 2015 with a warning restricting alcohol use when on the medication.

Oklahoma lawsuit against J&J continues

Sunday's Observer carried a feature on Oklahoma's legal case against Johnson & Johnson over claims the healthcare giant facilitated the state's epidemic of addiction to opioid painkillers.
The paper said the company has struggled to explain marketing strategies its accusers say dangerously misrepresented the risk of opioid addiction to doctors, manipulated medical research, and helped drive an epidemic that has claimed 400,000 lives over the past two decades.
Oklahoma’s attorney general, Mike Hunter, accuses J&J of joining with other companies to create a false narrative of an epidemic of untreated pain in the U.S. to which opioids were the solution, in part by funding front organizations such as the American Pain Society. The strategy helped drive a surge in opioid prescribing as narcotic painkillers ballooned into a multibillion-dollar-a-year market.

Miels leading R&D turnaround at GSK

The Times on Monday featured an interview with Luke Miels, GlaxoSmithKline's president, global pharmaceuticals, who joined from fellow UK firm AstraZeneca two years ago.
The paper focused on the legal battle that was prompted by Miels' decision to leave AZN, saying that AZN's CEO Pascal Soriot allegedly sought to threaten him by enforcing a 12-month notice period.
The Times said Miels is now "sanguine" about the situation and that it was a good decision to switch to GSK.
He is now leading a turnaround at the company that is centred on streamlining the R&D division in an attempt to produce fewer but bigger bestselling drugs.
The number of therapeutic areas has been reduced, with 80% of the company’s capital focused on four key areas, including oncology and respiratory illnesses, terminating more than 30 pre-clinical and clinical programmes as it seeks to prioritise investment on those drugs with the greatest prospects.

Prescription video games for ADHD

The FT on Tuesday featured an article on Akili, a company looking to create the world's first prescription video game.
The company's games have shown they can improve the attention and ability to focus of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Akili's chief executive Eddie Martucci told the paper he hopes to get U.S. approval by the end of 2019.

Dementia cure would trigger healthcare crisis

A cure for dementia would trigger a healthcare crisis as healthcare systems would not be prepared to cope with the extra demands, said the FT on Tuesday.
The paper covered research from the Rand Corporation that said one million people in Europe could be left without access to transformative care if a breakthrough occurred, while a U.S. study found that more than 2 million people with mild cognitive impairment could develop Alzheimer's in the next 20 years after a treatment was approved in the time taking to actually access therapy.
The FT said the recent failure of Biogen's aducanumab could have actually spared health systems "huge pressure".

Muscle relaxants linked to dementia

The Times on Tuesday reported on a study that found that there was nearly a 50% greater risk of dementia among patients aged 55 and over who had been prescribed strong anticholinergic drugs for three years or more.
This class of drug helps to contract and relax muscles. They work by blocking acetylcholine, a chemical that transmits messages in the nervous system.
The study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, looked at the medical records of 58,769 patients with a diagnosis of dementia and 225,574 patients without one.
The results suggest that the drugs were linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. The team could not say whether the drugs caused the conditions.

Bayer's shares jump

Bayer has signalled a possible shift in its approach towards the damaging wave of glyphosate litigation in the U.S., setting up a special supervisory board committee to examine the group's legal strategy and hiring a new lawyer to advise on trial tactics and mediation, the FT reported on Thursday. (APMHE 63486)
Its shares were up about 6% in Thursday morning trading.

Gottlieb joins Pfizer

The FT on Thursday reported on former FDA Commissioner Dr Scott Gottlieb joining Pfizer's board. The move could attract criticism of what is known as the "revolving door: between the agency and the industry, the paper said.

Wallgreens sticks with guidance as U.S. pharma sales improve

Signs of improving pharmaceutical sales in the U.S. during the third quarter and the continuation of its cost-cutting drive have given Walgreens Boots Alliance enough confidence to stick with its full-year earnings guidance, the FT reported on Thursday.
The retention of the steady outlook came as the company backed up from its "most difficult quarter" and reported sales and adjusted earnings in the three months to 31 May that came in just ahead of Wall Street forecasts, it said.
Chief executive Stefano Pessina said he was "pleased to report an improvement in our U.S. comparable growth compared with the first half of the year", adding the company would "continue (its) aggressive response to rapidly shifting trends, and have already seen improved U.S. retail sales and prescription growth" and was making good progress with its cost-cutting programme.

AbbVie takes $63 billion Botox injection

The FT on Wednesday carried the story of AbbVie's agreed $63 billion buyout of Allergan, a deal which it describes as "jaw-dropping". (APMHE 63456)
It said the entire deal is valued at $83 billion, including debt.
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