Press review

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Fake drugs represent 30% of all drugs used in Africa – Les Echos

Country : France

Keywords :
PARIS, 11 Oct (APM) - At least 30% of all drugs used in Africa are fake, reports Les Echos on Friday (p.12).
It is likely that the real figure is a lot higher, the paper continues, noting that there are no exact figures for the fake drugs market. However, Edinburgh University has calculated that between 58,000 and 158,000 deaths have been caused by fake malaria drugs alone and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine believes between 72,000 and 169,000 deaths have been caused by fake drugs for respiratory diseases.
A report from the European Union-financed ENhancing Africa's response to Transitional Crime (ENACT) noted that the fake drugs market was worth about €200 billion, while Transparency International sets the figure higher at €300 billion, equivalent to 6% of all healthcare spending worldwide.
Sanofi's general secretary Philippe Peyre said that the fake drugs market took off with the arrival of Viagra 20 years ago. Although fake drugs can be found online worldwide, the 'market' is focused on Africa as the continent imports 70% of its drugs.
The economic daily notes that although some international pharma companies such as Sanofi have opened specialised labs to analyse fake pills and help countries put together stricter rules and regulations, the challenges of facing this issue on an international and national level are huge.

Mediator trial continues

The trial continues regarding the roles of Servier and French drug regulator ANSM in the scandal around Mediator (benfluorex), a weight loss drug that has been linked with severe side effects and deaths.
On Wednesday Le Parisien (p.12) reported on the beginning of the trial and the judge's questioning of Emmanuel Canet Servier's head of R&D on why the pharma had neglected to mention in the drug's marketing authorisation request that it was an appetite suppressant.
The paper noted that Canet seemed overwhelmed by the number of questions and replied, slightly embarrassed, that ''there were some data on animals but not really in humans…''.
On Friday L'Humanité reports on the hearing of Gilles Bardelay, one of the founders of French independent prescribing guide Prescrire, who tore into Servier, the health authorities and doctors, sparing no one, according to the article.
He said that Servier was guilty of falsifying and omitting information about Mediator and for not providing any real information about the drug's efficacy in all the diseases it was said to treat. Bardelay said ANSM's predecessor, Afssaps, did not protect patients, but the interests of the pharmaceutical industry. He finally criticised doctors saying that they were ''irresponsible when they do not inform themselves and some of whom deserve a kick up the backside''.

J&J fined in U.S. for drug adverse events

Johnson & Johnson has been fined $8 billion in damages by a jury in Pennsylvania for not having warned about the adverse events of one of its drugs, reported Le Monde in a brief on Thursday (p.10) (APMHE 64657).
J&J had not reported that its antipsychotic Risperdal (risperidone) could lead to the development of breasts in men. It is planning to appeal the decision, the paper added.

French start-ups using AI to help develop cancer treatments

French start-ups like Netr are being courted by large pharma groups such as AstraZeneca to develop artificial intelligence (AI) programmes that could revolutionise oncology treatment, reports Les Echos (p.30).
Netr, one of nine start-ups chosen by AstraZeneca to join its programme in the area, positions itself as a trusted third-party between pharma companies, which need data to improve cancer treatments, and the healthcare centres that generate the data.
Another French start-up making waves in AI is VitaDX who was part of AstraZeneca's programme last year. Its programme combines AI with imagery to detect bladder cancer at an early stage in a non-invasive way.
These companies, the paper continued, are not looking to support doctors rather than replace them.
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