Press review

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Lawsuits postponed over Bayer's weedkiller Roundup to give time for settlement negotiations

BERLIN, 11 Oct (APM) - The start of three U.S. lawsuits have been postponed over claims Bayer's glyphosate-based weedkiller Roundup caused cancer, to give time for negotiating settlements, Handelsblatt reported on Monday (p16).
A lawsuit scheduled to start on Tuesday in St Louis, Missouri has been pushed back to the beginning of 2020, according to mediator Kenneth Feinberg, Handelsblatt said.
Two other lawsuits have been postponed to January 2020. News is expected at the end of October on a global settlement for all U.S. lawsuits over Bayer's glyphosate-based weedkiller Roundup allegedly causing cancer.
However, a draft for settling all lawsuits is expected at the beginning of 2020. But the prospect for a settlement in the near future could send Bayer's shares up 30%, according to analysts.

Qiagen shares slumped 20% after CEO quits and company strategy is reversed

Germany's Qiagen shares slumped 20% on Tuesday after the diagnostic manufacturer announced that its chief executive Peer Schatz quit and the group is reversing its genome sequencing strategy, FAZ reported on Wednesday (p18) (APMHE 64647).
Qiagen decided to halt development of its next-generation sequencing (NGS) machine development as part of a 15-year collaboration deal with U.S. NGS pioneer Illumina, under which Quiagen's genetic diagnostic products run on Illumina's hardware.
Moreover, Qiagen missed its prognosis for the third quarter, due to lower molecular diagnostics volumes in its China business.
Schatz, who has worked at Qiagen since 1993, will remain special adviser to the supervisory board and Thierry Bernard, the head of the group's molecular diagnostics business, will act as interim CEO. On Tuesday, Qiagen shares fell to their lowest point for 17 years, FAZ said.

Payers spent more than €7 billion on cancer therapies in 2018

German statutory health insurers spent €7.4 billion on cancer therapies in 2018, compared to €5 billion in 2014, umbrella payer group GKV-Spitzenverband told weekly Wirtschaftswoche.
Criticisms have been levelled that new cancer therapies, such as Novartis' CAR-T cell therapy Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel) or Merck Sharp and Dohme's immuno-therapy Keytruda (pembrolizumab), cost more than €100,000 per patient.
Pharma lobby vfa said that the increase is mainly due to a rising cancer incidence and, in total, Germany's drug spend has increased by just 3% annually.

Merck KGaA optimistic of reaching €2 billion sales from new products in 2022

Merck KGaA is optimistic of achieving €2 billion in sales for three of its new drugs in 2022, as forecast in September, Merck's chief executive Stefan Oschmann told FAZ in an interview published on Tuesday (p22).
Oschmann said that he is "quite relaxed" in light of €105 million Mavenclad (cladribine) sales in the first half of the year and €45 million for cancer drug Bavencio (avelumab) - two of the target products.
The third drug is soon-to-be-approved c-MET inhibitor tepotinib for lung cancer, which has just been granted breakthrough designation in the U.S. (APMHE 64324).

Outcome-based contracts are 'present not future' for Merck KGaA

Outcome-based contracts are "the present not the future" for Merck KGaA, the German group's head of pharma Belén Garijo told Die Welt in an interview published on Monday (p10).
Garijo said that Merck has not refunded any payments to the UK National Health Service (NHS) under the 2017 outcome-based payment agreement, as no patients have relapsed so far. (APMHE 55531)
Merck KGaA is on track to reach €2 billion in sales for new drugs. However, the group has to be more cost-efficient to be more profitable in the future, Garijo said, without commenting on planned measures.

More doses of flu vaccines delivered than in 2018

This autumn, 16.5 million doses of influenza vaccines have been delivered to pharmacies in Germany, compared to 15.7 million in last year, FAZ reported on Tuesday (p38).
It is likely that more batches will be delivered in November, according to drugs' regulator Paul Ehrlich Institute, responsible for biologic drugs and vaccines.

Purdue owners earned $12 billion

The Sackler family, owner of OxyContin (oxycodon) maker Purdue, has earned between $12 and $13 billion from its company and not $4 billion, as previously estimated, FAZ reported on Monday (p20) (APMHE 64622).
Some 24 federal states have initiated new lawsuits against Purdue as the company decided to pay bonuses and gratuities to its managers worth $34 million - in addition to more than 2,000 lawsuits alleging the company and its owners helped fuel the U.S. opioid epidemic, FAZ said on Saturday (p23).
Many states want the Sacklers to contribute more than an initial $3 billion they have pledged towards resolving the lawsuits as part of a settlement Purdue has proposed, Handelsblatt said on Monday (p17).
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