Press review

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Pharma better than state bureaucracy - Nobel laureate

MADRID, 26 July (APM) - Daily El Mundo on Wednesday carried an interview with Nobel laureate Sir Gregory Winter, who said that pharmaceutical companies are better than state bureaucracy.
According to the Nobel laureate, even though big pharmaceutical corporations do not always make good use of their power, neither do governments or other industries. "Power corrupts but, if it were not pharma's whose would be it, would it be better in the hands of state bureaucracy? I don't think so," he said.
He added that the power of pharma must not be unquestionable, but cautioned that if the industry saw its influence decrease, it may impact the chances of developing new treatments which patients need.
Winter's work with monoclonal antibodies has contributed to the development of drugs to treat autoimmune conditions and cancer, among others. However, these therapies are quite expensive, some costing more than $60,000 per patient annually, El Mundo reported.
Monoclonal antibodies make best-seller drugs such as AbbVie's Humira (adalimumab), the first monoclonal antibody to treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and inflammatory conditions, with $15 billion in sales in 2017, the newspaper noted.
Winter also shared its concern of the consequences of Brexit in terms of added difficulties to hire scientific talent from overseas and worse access to medicines.
"The UK gets funds for research from the EU. If the government decided to increase the national investment on science there would be no problem, but I bet they will not," he said.

Spain leads fight against hepatitis C

A study suggests that hepatitis C will be eradicated in Spain by 2024 and that Finland will be the only country to accomplish that goal before, daily El País reports on Friday.
The story is based on a multi-centre study by German and U.S. researchers which includes an analysis of policies to fight hepatitis C in 45 countries and estimates their future impact.
El País quotes Javier García-Samaniego, head of hepatology at La Paz University Hospital in Madrid, as saying: "If we keep our diagnose and treatment pace, it is only logic that we are leaders, because few countries have made a comparable effort."
Spain has devoted more than €2.5 billion to the national hepatitis C plan and 130,000 patients have been treated with the newest drugs from 2015, when the plan was activated.
According to García-Samaniego, the government was committed to go ahead with the plan in spite of the high cost of newer hepatitis C drugs. "Pricing talks ended with a good deal. The cost of the treatment has dropped from €50,000 per patient to €7,000, which is what it costs today," he told the newspaper.
Initially, only patients with advanced disease were included in the plan. Gradually, the treatment was administered to more and more patients regardless of disease stage, the newspaper noted.

Regional official paid by pharma

On Tuesday, El Diario reported that David Moreno, the new official in charge of vaccines in Andalusia region has received payments from key vaccine manufacturers for years.
From 2017 and 2018, the only years of exhaustively documented payments, Moreno received more than €46,000 from pharmaceutical companies in exchange for advocacy and coverage of his attending medical conferences.
More than €21,000 were paid by manufacturers of meningococcal B vaccine GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer for "services" which are not at all related to research, El Diario said.
A spokesperson from Andalusia government has said that Moreno's activities were mainly academic and travel expenses to attend medical meetings, adding that these activities are quite frequent in the healthcare sector and that professionals need continued education in numerous topics, which explains the need to hire specialists like Moreno.
In any case, these activities will be interrupted while he is the director of Andalusia's vaccination plan, the spokesperson noted.

Grifols praised for its investments, results

On Monday, financial Cinco Días carried a story with the headline: 'Grifols, the strength of a leader which invests'.
According to Cinco Días, the Catalonian firm is one of the best on the Spanish stock market and one of the most important hemoderivatives-specialist companies in the world.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently approved Grifols' Xembigy (APMHE 63595) to treat primary immunodeficiencies. The company is planning to sell it in Canada, Europe and the rest of the world pending approval by additional regulators, the financial note.
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