MADRID, 19 July (APM) - Daily ABC on Saturday reported at length on access to HIV treatments in developing countries and pharma's pricing policies.
''It has been 30 years since an AIDS pandemic killed thousands of people in Africa while pharma hypocritically proclaimed their solidarity but refused to lower the prices of HIV medicines,'' it reported.
Nowadays, that kind of attitude would be ''inconceivable''. Pharma executives have learned that poorer populations have the same right to receive the medicines they need as patients in developed countries.
There are an estimated 20 million African patients infected with HIV. They receive treatment at less than $100 annually, with drugs sold at practically their manufacturing cost. Drugs to treat other high-prevalence conditions, including malaria, TB, hepatitis C and certain types of cancer are also sold at lower prices in these countries, ABC reported.
The 20 biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world, which refused to lower the prices of their drugs in the past, are currently competing to show solidarity and improve access to medicines for unmet needs, ABC added.
Companies which have embraced this strategy include Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline and Merck KGaA, at the most prominent level, whereas Japanese firms like Takeda and Eisai are gradually getting their positions at the list of ''caring'' pharmas.
A number of international pharmaceutical firms are cooperating with generic manufacturers based in India, to whom they grant licenses, which allow the distribution of drugs at low prices in Africa, Latin America and some countries in Asia.
These strategies are, according to some experts in the field, a long-term investment. Whereas the drug market is showing signs of coming to a standstill in certain developed countries, it is constantly growing in countries with limited income but development standards on the rise.
Giving up revenue now can turn into substantial gaining in a few years, the newspaper argued.
J&J to try experimental HIV vaccine in Europe and U.S.
Johnson & Johnson is planning to try an experimental HIV vaccine in Europe and the U.S. in an effort to find a compound which is efficient in populations around the world, dailies El Mundo, El País, 20 Minutos financials Cinco Días, El Economista reported on Saturday.
Following four decades of research and setbacks, J&J is working on what might become the first HIV vaccine. The company is aiming to start trials at the end of 2019 in the U.S. and Europe with 3,800 male volunteers, El Mundo reported.
The scientific team in charge of the project is looking for a vaccine which works in populations around the world, particularly in Africa. Results of the trials are not to be expected before 2023, El Mundo said.
The company is cooperating with ViiV Healthcare in the approval of a treatment to reduce HIV infection. It is the same strategy as that of Gilead and Pfizer, the newspaper added.
Basic science not a pharma thing - Nobel laureate
On Saturday, daily El País carried an interview with Roger Kornberg, Nobel laureate in chemistry, who emphasised the importance of public funding of basic science, as this is a topic to which pharma will not devote much effort.
El País quoted Kornberg as saying: ''It is a mistake to think that pharmaceutical companies can replace publicly funded research. Our research is basic, in the sense that it is moved by curiosity about nature, without knowing where this will take you.''
According to the Nobel laureate, research without clear goals is not something pharma can do because they cannot devote funds to projects without objectives. ''A company cannot invest money to do something which may not bring any revenue ever, it is impossible,'' he told the newspaper.
Spain's Farmasierra ready for U.S. expansion
Spanish firm Farmasierra is expecting to get its first FDA-approved drug at some point this summer, effectively entering the U.S. market, financial Cinco Días reported on Thursday.
Entering the U.S. will open the gate to 20 additional markets, which will make the firm active in 80 countries by 2020-2021.
Speaking at a press conference, Farmasierra president Tomás Ollero said: ''Manufacturing is our core. We have developed a vertical business which comprises the whole process of developing a drug, from R&D to manufacture, distribution and commercialisation.''