Press review

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Bayer under pressure from Elliott hedge fund

Country : France, Germany, U.S.

Keywords :
BERLIN, 28 June (APM) - Bayer is under pressure from U.S. hedge fund Elliott to reach a quick global settlement in the U.S. glyphosate litigation, Handelsblatt (p1, 16-17, 24) Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) (p17) Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) (p15) and Die Welt (p12) report on Friday.
Elliott reacted positively to Bayer hiring two external advisers and setting up a special committee to reshape its litigation strategy, including trial tactics and mediation (APMHE 63486).
However, Elliott is known to be an activist shareholder. In the case of Bayer, it could advocate a split between pharma and crop science businesses as it has called for "long-term value creation measures in the interests of all stakeholders".
Handelsblatt also said that Singapore's sovereign wealth fund Temasek, which owns a 3% stake in Bayer, also urged the company to act without making its position public.

MorphoSys appoints new CEO

German biotech MorphosSys has appointed Jean-Paul Kress as its new chief executive as of 1 September, said FAZ on Wednesday (p20) and Handelsblatt on Thursday (p47) (APMHE 63450).
Kress will succeed co-founder Simon Moroney, who announced his retirement at the beginning of 2019.
MorphoSys is preparing the U.S. launch of tafasitamab, the first drug it has entirely developed. Its shares gained almost 6% on Monday after positive results on tafasitamab were presented at a congress, Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reported on Tuesday (p20).
Analysts said study data, especially on overall survival were very convincing. MorphoSys plans to file in the U.S. by the end of 2019.

Sanofi to focus on biological drugs in Frankfurt

Sanofi is increasingly focusing its business on biological drugs developed in cancer, immunological diseases and rare diseases at its Frankfurt-Höchst location, FAZ said on Wednesday (p18) (APMHE 63479).
Höchst, which is Sanofi's main site for R&D and manufacturing of diabetes products, "will continue to conduct specific research in the field of diabetes, but the focus will be on biologics," German head Fabrizio Guidi said.

Biofrontera defends against hostile bid

German biotech Biofrontera founder Hermann Lübbert and two other board members will sell their shares to Japanese main shareholder Maruho to prevent second main shareholder Deutsche Balaton taking control of the company, Handelsblatt said on Monday (p45).
Maruho, which holds 20% of Biofrontera, is offering €7.20 euros a share for the acquisition of a further 10% while Deutsche Balaton, which also has a stake of around 20%, announced an offer to buy more shares.
Balaton has filed a request to the annual meeting on 10 July to dismiss the supervisory board members, saying it has acted against the company in capital increases and transactions with Maruho.

Biotech drugs at record level in Germany

Biological drugs accounted for almost 60% of all new registrations in 2018 (38 out 65) in 2018, compared to 27% in 2008, reported FAZ on Wednesday (p18).
While sales in the entire drugs market in Germany grew by 6% in 2018, sales of biologicalsz increased by almost 12% to €11.4 billion euros, according to a report published on Tuesday. This is partly due to the fact that biotechnologically-produced drugs are often quite expensive.
In Germany, around 400 biopharmaceutical companies employ almost 50,000 people.

Gene therapies challenge German pricing

Gene therapies that were recently launched or will soon be in Germany are challenging the country's pricing model, Handelsblatt reported on Tuesday (p14-15 and 22).
As the launch price of a drug is freely determined by manufacturers in Germany, health insurance companies fear that there could be unusual and one-off cost increases. Discussions are ongoing on pay for performance models.
The price of bluebird's Zynteglo (lentiglobin), recently approved in the EU, will be close to €1.6 million while Novartis/Avexis's Zolgensma, priced at $2.1 million in the U.S., is expected to be marketed in the EU at a similar level. Along with the already launched CAR-T cell therapies, these are the forerunners in a wave of costly cell and gene therapies.

AbbVie to buy Allergan to prepare the 'after Humira' era

AbbVie is buying Allergan to fill the sales gap it will face with the end of U.S. patent protection for its best-selling drug Humira (adalimumab), Handelsblatt (p1, 14-15) FAZ (p18), Die Welt (p13) reported on Wednesday.
Humira is "AbbVie's IPhone", said FAZ, "a cash machine generating more than 60% of its turnover" but the company cannot close the future sales gap with its current portfolio.
Handelsblatt points out on Friday (p24) that AbbVie will acquire a new, but by no means fast-growing product range. It will invest its cash flows over the next few years primarily in debt reduction and probably has to cut back on research.

High salary for e-card consortium new boss

The new head of the German e-health card consortium Gematik, pharma manager, Markus Leyck Dieken will earn twice as much as his predecessor, Der Spiegel said on Saturday (p58).
According to Spiegel, Leyck Dieken will have an annual basic remuneration of €300,000, a variable component of €40,000 annually, a retirement provision of around €32,000 and a monthly car allowance of €1,350 - while his predecessor earned €180,000 a year.
The Ministry of Health, already criticised for selecting a pharma manager (APMHE), told Spiegel that such a sum was usual among top officials in the statutory health insurance.

France about to cut reimbursement for homeopathic drugs

France's highest health authority Haute Autorité de Santé is recommending cutting reimbursement by health insurance companies for all homeopathic remedies as they do not show added value, FAZ says on Friday (p19).
France's Health Minister Agnès Buzyn on Thursday said that she did not want to make the decision immediately because she had enough to do with the current heat wave. However, she has previously said that she will follow the HAS recommendation.
France's move is all the more important that dispute over homeopathic remedies' reimbursement is raging in several countries.

Controversial 'female desire' drug approved in U.S.

The U.S. Food and Drug administration has approved the controversial injectable drug Vyleesi (bremelanotide) to increase sexual desire in premenopausal women, Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) said on Wednesday (p14) (APMHE 63440).
Clinical studies on Amag's Vyleesi have shown a small higher effect versus placebo and several side effects, including nausea in 40% of women and thus has the same benefit-risk profile as its predecessor oral drug Addyi (flibanserin).
It is questionable whether it will find a market in view of the small effect and the side effects, SZ added.
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