Press review

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BioNTech is Germany's new biotech 'heavyweight'

Country : France, Germany, U.S., Switzerland

Keywords :
BERLIN, 18 Oct (APM) -BioNTech, which raised $150 million through a listing on the U.S. Nasdaq stock exchange, has become Germany's new "heavyweight" in the country's biotech sector, Handelsblatt reported on Monday (p22, 28).
The company's cash reserves have risen to more than €650 million, making BioNTech "the most highly financed biotech company in Germany", the newspaper reported. It is now valued at approximately €3.1 billion.
BioNTech founder, Ugur Sahin, still holds an 18.4% stake following the flotation, while the main investors, the Strüngmann brothers, hold 51%.
The company intends to use the additional funds primarily for further clinical studies with a number of novel cancer vaccines.
However, this move shows again that German capital market is not big enough to finance biotechs, Handelsblatt said.
Following the successful Nasdaq listing of Morphosys in 2018, BioNTech's flotation is another important signal for the financing capability and status of German biotech companies in the U.S.. It could pave the way for further U.S. listings in the medium term, for CureVac and Immatics, according to EY's biotech expert expert Siegfried Bialojan.

Medical students criticise professors for obscuring pharma's influence

Medical students' associations bvmd and UAEM have published a study in which they strongly criticise medical professors for obscuring the pharma industry's influence on them via payments, gifts or other benefits, Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reports on Friday (p22).
While medical faculties in the U.S. or France have issued guidelines to compel professors to disclose conflicts of interest, only the Dresden and Berlin universities have said they have complied. However, students should be educated how to engage pharma influence as early as possible, SZ says.
The drug commission of the German medical association AkdÄ said that students and physicians who are aware of the "ideological entanglement" between pharma and medical professors typically prescribe fewer "new, expensive drugs with a an unfavourable risk profile".
Professors, who often work with the pharma industry in clinical studies, are used to disclosing their conflicts of interest in peer-reviewed journals or at scientific conferences - but they do not disclose these to their students, SZ said.

Roche boosts sales forecast

Swiss pharma company Roche has boosted its full-year sales forecast to a high one-digit percentage, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) (p19) and SZ (p18) reported on Thursday (APMHE 64739).
From January to September, Roche's sales increased 10% to 46 Swiss francs (€41.9 billion) compared to the first three quarters of 2018, SZ reported.
Roche's chief executive Severin Spahn rejected media reports that Swiss drug exports could face U.S. punitive duties.

German payers face surging expenses

German statutory health insurers are facing surging expenses that could consume their €20 billion reserves, FAZ reported on Thursday (p18).
A committee formed by payers' and governmental financial experts estimates that payers will experience losses of €3 to €4.5 billion in 2020, as Germany's economy continues to slow down. Health Minister Jens Spahn contributes to these expenses by limiting payers' instruments for savings, for example in drug expenses, FAZ said.

Drug companies offer billion-dollar settlements in U.S. opioid crisis

Drug distributors McKesson Corp, AmerisourceBergen Corp and Cardinal Health and pharma companies Johnson & Johnson (J&J) have offered to pay billions to avoid decisions in over 2,000 U.S. opioid lawsuits, FAZ reported on Thursday (p21) (APMHE 64757).
The three distributors have offered to pay $18 billion in cash over 18 years, while J&J would pay $4 billion in cash.
Generics manufacturer Teva and the three distributors are all facing a landmark trial set to begin in a federal court in Cleveland, Ohio, on Monday. U.S. District Judge Dan Polster, who has long called for a global settlement of the litigation, will preside over the trial.

Controversy over hormone replacement for menopausal women

A new review published in Lancet has sparked renewed controversy over breast cancer risks for menopausal women due to hormone replacement, FAZ reported on Wednesday (p33).
While a higher risk is known mainly for oestrogens and gestagen combinations, data from the 1990s are not relevant now as these drugs are no longer being prescribed, said gynecologists' association BVF. The review evaluated 58 studies with more than 10,000 patients, FAZ said.
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