Press review


Humira biosimilars won almost 50% market share over 12 months in Germany

BERLIN, 4 Oct (APM) - The five biosimilars of AbbVie's autoimmune disease drug Humira (adalimumab) have won almost 50% market share in Germany since their launch in October 2018, report Handelsblatt on Friday (p24-25).
This is a breakthrough as it is the first time that biosimilars have been so quick to win such a stake, Stephan Eder, head of Germany at Novartis' subsidiary Sandoz said.
Moreover, one of the suppliers, Biogen, launched its product Imraldi with a 40% discount on Humira instead of the usual 20%, so forcing the other suppliers to follow within a short space of time. Imraldi has now the highest market share among adalimumab biosimilars (15.6%) closely followed by Amgen's Amgevita (13.4%)
One reason for the success lies in rheumatologists being used to prescribe biosimilars since the launch of infliximab copies in 2015, Bork Bretthauer, managing director of the Pro Generika lobby told Handelsblatt.
AbbVie has not reduced Humira's list price but has negotiated a confidential discount agreement with almost all health insurers.
Next year, the cards will be shuffled again as a price cap is expected to apply to four drug groups, including adalimumab (APMHE 64504).

Bayer to invest €25 billion in agricultural research

Bayer said it is to spend more than €25 billion on agricultural research and development over the next 10 years to find new products and new technologies applying to the area, reported FAZ (p22) and Handelsblatt (p24) on Wednesday and FAZ on Friday (p24).
Investments in crop science amounted to €2.3 billion in 2018, Bayer said.
Activities within its pipeline of breeding, biotech, crop protection and environmental science have an annual peak sales potential of €30 billion, of which €17 billion were expected to come from recent and near-term product launches, Bayer said.
Bayer has appointed a new agricultural and nutrition expert, Ertharin Cousin, to its supervisory board, Handelsblatt reported.
Cousin, former executive director of the UN World Food Programme, currently works at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. She will bring "her exceptional experience in the area of nutrition, government and the United Nations", Bayer said.

Chemotherapy cytarabine shortage in Germany

German regulator BfArM has been informed of a shortage of chemotherapy cytarabine, one of the most important treatment options for acute myeloid leukaemia, SZ reported on Monday (p14) and Wednesday (p19) (APMHE 64501).
While most drugs can be replaced by other compounds, the cytarabine shortage is more critical.
The problem of drug shortages is complex and linked to global pharma manufacturing and marketing as well as German payers' exclusive tenders, SZ said.
Drug shortages have been a growing problem over recent years: six years ago, 40 drugs were on shortage in Germany, compared with 239 today. German politicians have reacted to the situation issuing a position paper (APMHE 64501).

Three hospitals replace prostate tumour surgery with Steba's Tookad

A Frankfurt hospital is the third clinic in Germany to replace surgery for low-risk prostate adenocarcinoma by a vascular-targeted photodynamic therapy using Steba Biotech's Tookad (padeliporfin), approved in the EU in November 2017, FAZ reports on Friday (p34).
Tookad consists of a photo-activated compound that causes the tumour's vascular system to atrophy. After four years of clinical experience in this method in Hamburg, Dresden and Tübingen, the Agaplesion Markus hospital has adopted it, FAZ says.

Pharmacy bill in jeopardy

It is doubtful whether the Health Ministry will succeed in preventing discounts on prescription drugs by mail-order pharmacies - which is one of the provisions in its bill on 'local pharmacies reinforcement' (VOASG), FAZ reported on Saturday (p22) (APMHE 64489).
The VOASG bill (APMHE 63735) includes a provision to maintain fixed prices for prescription drugs and therefore forbids discounts by mail-order pharmacies (APMHE 62627).
Health Minister Jens Spahn said at the pharmacists' national conference on 27 September that it is unsure if the provision will last. It is likely that any form of this bill ends up in front of the European Court of Justice, FAZ said.

Pharma manufacturers could be forced to contribute to waste water fund

The German association of energy and water industries (BDEW) wants pharma and other industries causing water pollution to contribute to a public fund, FAZ reported on Monday (p15).
The fund would finance a fourth kind of sewage treatment whose costs are estimated at €1.3 billion annually.
Local analyses from Northrhine-Westfalia have shown that 98% of the residues left by sewage treatment consist of the 20 most harmful substances. 14 of these top 20 come from pharma and pesticide industries.
Groups such as Bayer should be among the companies that would have to contribute, according to FAZ.



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