PARIS, 16 Aug (APM) - Drug shortages have increased twenty-fold in France between 2008 and 2018 and factory relocations are to blame, reported Les Echos on Monday (p.22).
In the past 30 years, the percentage of drug raw materials manufactured in Europe has gone from 80% to 20%, with the result that currently almost 40% of fully processed drugs marketed in Europe come from a third country, according to the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
As with "the toy and textile industry south-east Asia has become the world's pharmacy workshop", the paper continued, with the majority of drugs now manufactured in India and China. Pharma companies moved drug production, especially raw material production, to these countries where labour costs in a desire to maintain profitability as price cuts hit.
Hence the issue of stock shortages today. One raw material manufacturer can produce the raw materials for several drugs, for example the raw materials for 35 cancer drugs are manufactured by just three Chinese manufacturers, so when an issue arises in one of these factories its impact is felt worldwide.
Changing governmental priorities in these rapidly developing countries are also having an impact - supply tensions were inevitable when China decided to vaccinate 100 million children for measles.
Talk of potential Monsanto agreement impacts Bayer's share price
Mentions in the press that Bayer was offering $8 billion to settle more than 18,000 lawsuits on Friday saw the pharma's share price increase by almost 10% that morning before dropping again in the afternoon after the mediator in the case, Kenneth Feinberg, denied this was the case, reported Les Echos on Monday (p.12).
At the close of trading on Friday, Bayer's share price was up 2.6% at €64.63, but its fluctuations throughout the day were nothing new, as any mention of the Monsanto case rapidly send the pharma's shares soaring or plunging as appropriate.
But hope is on the horizon for Bayer, facing over 13,400 lawsuits due to Monsanto's weed killer glyphosate after buying the company for $63 billion last year, the paper continued, pointing out that Monsanto's largest fine had been reduced from $2 billion to $87 million on 26 July.
Trump launches programme to give U.S. patients drugs from Canada
U.S. President Trump has launched a programme cutting the prices patients pay for drugs, not by reforming the country's own healthcare system, but by allowing pharmacists and wholesalers to buy drugs from Canada, reported L'Humanité on Wednesday (p.14).
Due to a universal and free healthcare insurance system, drugs in Canada are much less expensive, with an insulin ampoule in the Canadian state of Ontario costing a tenth of the price just over the U.S. border ($27 versus $270).
Drug prices, and more broadly the price of healthcare, are gearing up to play a significant role in the 2020 U.S. elections, in which Trump will be fighting for re-election.
However, Canada's response to the programme's announcement was not positive. Its health minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said she had not been consulted over the topic. Canada already faces shortages and stocks running out on a regular basis and there are fears that pharma companies will stop marketing drugs in the country to stop them being sold over the border and therefore damaging their U.S. profits.
JP Morgan banks $123 million from Allergan sale
AbbVie's acquisition of Allergan will see U.S. Bank JP Morgan receive $123 million in commission for its services as seller adviser, reports Les Echos on Friday (p.11).
According to the Financial Times, quoted in the economic daily, this is the highest sum a bank has ever got from a merger and acquisition, beating the $120 million Morgan Stanley got from the sale of Monsanto to Bayer.
This is not the only pharma industry-based deal where JP Morgan will receive a huge sum. It is also set to gain $100 million from Bristol-Myers Squibb's acquisition of Celegene for $74 billion.