MADRID, 23 Aug (APM) - On Wednesday, financial El Economista carried an interview with Joaquín Casariego, head of oncology at Janssen Spain, who said that pharmaceutical companies from all over the world have chosen Spain to carry out cancer trials.
Casariego told El Economista: “In my experience, research in Spain has the highest standards. Spain is usually the first or second country, after Germany, where the most trials are carried out”. He said Spanish researchers are leaders in the field of prostate cancer among others..
According to Casariego, patient recruitment, which is an essential step in the development of new medicines, is one of Spain’s strong suits. This, together with the increasing number of research centres which comply with the highest standards, have turned Spain into a trustworthy location in terms of clinical trials El Economista added.
Casariego told the financial that Janssen has expanded its scope in solid tumours from prostate cancer to other malignancies. “Our goal is to be a big oncology firm in a number of areas, expanding from prostate cancer to bladder and lung cancer. This is our target in the short and medium term”, he said.
Asked about other potential developments in the oncology area, Casariego noted that, for the time being, there are no plans to research other tumours. “There is common ground for these three types of cancer (prostate, bladder and lung). They are among the most prevalent and devastating cancers”, he said.
Janssen is also committed to working on precision medicine, biomarkers, big data analysis and artificial intelligence, he added.
He mentioned Erleada (apalutamide) in prostate cancer and Balversa (erdafitinib) in bladder cancer as some of Janssen’s most relevant contributions. In lung cancer, he said that new drug research is still in its early stages, but it will bring “something completely new”; whereas in bladder cancer there are few treatment options and new drugs based on precision medicine will be key.
Cancer drug shows promise in HIV treatment
Spanish researchers from the Vall d’Hebron Institute in Barcelona have successfully treated HIV-reservoir cells with cancer drug Rituximab, dailies ABC and El Mundo reported on Tuesday.
The results of their work, published in Nature Communications, can be important for the design of new therapies directed to fight the latent viral reservoir, but they are preliminary and by no means are to be thought of as an alternative to conventional HIV treatment, ABC cautioned.
María José Buzón, lead author, was quoted in ABC as saying: “We reactivated the virus and reduced the viral reservoir by 64%”. The drug depleted infected cells but can also affect healthy cells, including lymphocytes, added Adriá Curran, who also worked on these experiments, ABC reported.
Speaking at the study's presentation, the authors said that patients with HIV are partially at ease due to the availability of effective treatments. However, they warned that the virus can live in reservoir cells and be reactivated, which could explain why the number of patients living with AIDS has not dropped as much as it hoped, the newspaper added.
Spanish region forced to reimburse one patient’s testosterone replacement therapy
Following a court ruling, the Spanish region of Galicia will have to reimburse one patient who had to pay for his testosterone injections after they were excluded from the list of publicly funded drugs, daily El Diario reported on Thursday.
The patient was initially treated with Bayer’s testosterone, commercialised as Reandrom, then switched to a different one which was publicly founded. However, his condition worsened and his doctor recommended going back to Bayer’s injections, which cost the patient €1,560.
The court ruled that the publicly funded alternative was not efficient in this case, and that the right to healthcare was violated when the patient had to pay for the treatment himself. Thus, regional healthcare authorities must reimburse the cost of the original treatment, El Diario reported.
FDA grants Orphan Drug designation to Pharmamar’s Zepsyre
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted orphan status to Pharmamar’s Zepsyre (lurbinectedin) for the treatment of small cell lung cancer (SCLC), financial Cinco Días, daily La Vanguardia, Europa Press agency, medical journal Redacción Médica and a number of regional newspapers reported on Monday.
Shares went up by 30% following this announcement. If the drug is eventually approved by the agency, it will be the firm’s second drug to be sold on the U.S. market, Cinco Días reported.