Press review

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UK's NHS in line for £1.8 billion cash injection

LONDON, 9 Aug (APM) - UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Monday announced extra £1.8 billion will be spent on NHS infrastructure and equipment even if there is a no-deal Brexit, The Guardian reported the same day.
The funding, first reported by the FT last Friday, will start to be pumped into the service straight away, and is in addition to five-year financing announced by previous Prime Minister Theresa May last year, under which annual spending will have risen by an additional £20.6 billion a year by 2023 to 2024, the Financial Times also reported on Saturday.
Even in the event of a no-deal Brexit, "the economy is growing strongly, and ultimately all public services … and the biggest amongst them is the NHS, they’re paid for by having a strong economy," Hancock told BBC One's Breakfast on Monday, The Guardian reported.
Johnson has made clear that the NHS will be a principal focus of his administration, convinced that the Conservatives can win over voters in a policy area where the opposition Labour party has traditionally held an advantage, the FT noted.
About £850 million of the new sum will be earmarked for building projects at 20 hospitals, the FT and The Guardian reported.
According to a separate FT analysis on Saturday, though any new NHS capital investment is welcome, this new building programme may be met with some scepticism inside the health service, however.
It noted that the past few years have seen a gulf between rhetoric and reality on NHS capital investment. Since 2017, 145 new spending schemes for hospital beds, buildings, medical equipment and information technology have been announced - an average of more than one a week, totalling £2.5 billion.
But a recent analysis by the Health Service Journal found that less than £100 million of this promised funding has actually reached the front line, the FT said, adding there have been few, if any, ribbons to cut.

NICE wants more evidence for cannabis-derived treatments

The statement from UK health technology assessment (HTA) body NICE that evidence was lacking for the safety and effectiveness of cannabis-derived treatments and that more clinical trials are needed (APMHE 63997) was picked up by the Daily Telegraph and The Times on Friday.
The Times led with the view that parents of children with severe epilepsy are dismayed by the decision, which follows comments from the Home Office in October that doctors would be allowed to prescribe cannabis after a review prompted by the cases of Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, two boys whose epilepsy appeared to be curbed by cannabis-based medicine.
The Daily Telegraph said that without a NICE recommendation, only a tiny handful of doctors are qualified and willing to prescribe cannabis-derived treatments, meaning they are virtually impossible to obtain in practice.
NICE also said that GW Pharmaceuticals' Sativex (delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol+cannabidiol), a cannabis-derived drug developed to treat spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis, was too expensive for NHS use, said both papers.

GSK hands over Ebola vaccine rights to Sabin Vaccine Institute

GlaxoSmithKline is to hand over the development of three potential vaccines against the Ebola and Marburg viruses, despite an outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, The Times reported on Wednesday (APMHE 63961).
The UK pharma will transfer the programmes to the Sabin Vaccine Institute in Washington. It confirmed that there was no financial aspect to the agreement, said the paper.

Novartis could face legal action over Zolgensma data manipulation

Novartis could face civil or criminal penalties related to the manipulation of data to support the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of gene therapy Zolgensma, the FT reported on Tuesday (APMHE 63960, APMHE 63989).
The paper said shares in the Swiss firm fell 3% to $88.08 in afternoon trading after the FDA raised concerns about the accuracy of some of the date from early stage product testing in animals for the spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) treatment.
The regulator added that it is confident the gene therapy, which costs $2.1 million, will remain on the market.

Teva puts aside $646 million for opioid lawsuits

The FT on Wednesday covered Teva's Q2 results, focusing on the company's decision to put aside $646 million for liabilities related to litigation over the opioid epidemic in the U.S. (APMHE 63972).
The paper noted the Israeli firm has already agreed to pay Oklahoma state $85 million.
The article quoted Kare Schultz, Teva's president and chief executive, who said the mounting lawsuits addressed at opioid makers and distributors were "political" rather than a "classical legal situation".

Time to break up Bayer?

The FT on Wednesday carried a feature on the future of Bayer, saying that it might be time to break up the German group following the "disastrous" purchase of Monsanto for €50 billion.
The paper said that, measured by the share price fall since the deal was first suggested three years ago, the deal "ranks among the worst in corporate history".
One of the problems has been U.S. court cases related to Roundup, a widely used herbicide marketed by Monsanto that has been linked to cancer.
Bayer faces possibly paying billions in compensation, said the FT.

Bayer to take full control of U.S. biotech BlueRock Therapeutics

Meanwhile, Bayer has agreed to take full control of U.S. biotech BlueRock Therapeutics, the FT reported on Thursday (APMHE 63988).
The deal values BlueRock at up to $1 billion, said the paper. Bayer will pay $240 million upfront and will pay an additional $360 million upon achievement of “predefined development milestones”.
Bayer already owns 41% of BlueRock, which it set up as a joint venture with Versant Ventures in 2016.

Prostate cancer hopes for Lynparza

AstraZeneca's Lynparza (olaparib) could offer hope to thousands of men with an incurable form of prostate cancer, the Daily Mail reported on Thursday (APMHE 63962).
The newspaper covered trial results that it said hit its target of prolonging the lives of men with cancer which survived normal treatment.

Cost of medication-related litigation in Ireland hits €7.7 million over six years

The cost of medication-related legal cases against the Irish state in the six years to the end of 2016 was €7.7 million, The Sunday Times cited a new study as saying.
The errors occurred only at the prescribing and administration stages, and the most common were prescribing the wrong dose or issuing an incorrect drug, it said. General anaesthetics, opioids and penicillin antibiotics were identified as the medication that caused the most lawsuits.
The study, published by the British Pharmacological Society, found the most commonly cited injuries included allergic reactions, deterioration in clinical status and post-traumatic stress disorder. At least 79 clinical cases were identified between 2011 and 2016 in which medication was at fault. Forty-eight of these cases were successful for the plaintiff and 54 medications were involved.

New medical procedure could delay menopause by 20 years

A medical procedure that aims to allow women to delay the menopause for up to 20 years has been launched by IVF specialists ProFam in Birmingham, UK, The Guardian reported on Sunday and The Independent on Monday.
The procedure involves removing and freezing ovarian tissue from women under the age of 40 to be replanted back into the body, potentially decades later, to restore falling hormone levels during menopause.
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