Press review

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Opioid overdoses cause 1,000 deaths annually in Spain

MADRID, 25 Oct (APM) - Mortality rates associated with opioid abuse have increased more than 50% over the past seven years and have more than doubled for women, daily El País reported on Monday.
More than 7,000 people died in Spain between 2010 to 2017 due to opioid overdose, according to data provided by the University of Cádiz. Over the past few years the trend is a stable increase, with steep growth in the case of women.
According to the university, more than two thirds of those deaths happen by accident, with the rest being documented as intentional. Population groups which are particularly vulnerable are middle-aged men and women older than 65, the newspaper noted.
This is the first time that data about opioid related deaths (ORD) have been published in Spain. El País quoted co-author Inmaculada Failde, professor at the University of Cádiz, as saying: "The report concludes that it is quite unlikely that the crisis we have seen in the U.S., with more than 50,000 deaths annually, echoes in Spain."
María Ángeles Cano, head of the pain unit at University Hospital in Valencia, told the newspaper that one of the causes could be the misuse of rapid-acting fentanyl formulations. "These are meant to be used for immediate pain relief, but are also associated with addiction. They are intended for use in cancer patients with intense, sudden pain. Some cancer-free patients who use these formulations search higher, more frequent dosage regimes than those initially prescribed," she said.
Failde said that a good way of avoiding opioid misuse would be by creating a detailed registry of how they are being used, the clinical scenarios for their prescription and the consequences of using these medicines. "With it we would be able to avoid an unjustified reluctance to use these drugs when they are needed and, at the same time, identify misuse in vulnerable populations," she added.

HIV PrEP not linked to increased risk of other STDs

On Monday, daily Newspaper El País carried a story about the recent approval of HIV PrEP for reimbursement in Spain (APMHE 64700), exploring if other sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) could increase now that the use of a condom is no longer necessary to prevent HIV.
The newspaper quotes a number of experts disregarding that PrEP use will lead to an increase in other diseases. It argues that clinical trials did not document such an increase and that, in fact, having patients controlled (with analysis every three months) can actually be a way of preventing the contagion of other infections.
El País quoted ministry sources as saying that as PrEP is administered free of charge across Spain's public hospitals and a number of initiatives to promote safe sex will be implemented.
Additionally, PrEP will be exclusively administered "to adolescents and high-risk adults". These include men who have sex with men and trans-gender individuals who are HIV free and are older than 18 years.
The subjects will also have to meet two of the following criteria: having had more than 10 different sex partners over the past year, have practised anal sex without the use of condoms, have received post-exposure prophylaxis several times or having had at least one sexually-transmitted infection caused by bacteria. Sex workers who report that condomless sex is usual can also receive PrEP, El País noted.
A total of 17,000 people will benefit from PrEP use now that it has been approved for reimbursement, according to the ministry of health's estimates.

Focus on pharma's contribution to sustainable development

On Wednesday, daily newspaper La Vanguardia carried an editorial about pharma's contribution to the UN sustainable development goals.
"Many industries are helping to achieve the 17 goals, only some do more than others. Pharma is among the sectors which have showed its commitment to making the planet a better place," the editorial said.
The development of new medicines account for 73% of the extension of life expectancy globally over the past decades. Example of this include the drugs which turn AIDS into a chronic disease instead of a death sentence. Other infectious diseases and types of cancer have gone through the same kind of change, the newspaper reported.

Encouraging results for Biogen's aducanumab in Alzheimer's

Biogen has announced promising results with aducanumab in Alzheimer's disease (AD), daily newspaper ABC and Europa Press agency reported on Thursday. (APMHE 64844)
The announcement comes after a new analysis of two clinical trials which were discontinued. The latest announcement resulted in a dramatic increase in Biogen's share price, Europa Press reported.
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