Press review

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More than half of French biotechs suffered 22% share price falls in 2019

Country : France

Keywords :
PARIS, 6 Dec (APM) - The share price of 27 of the 36 French biotechs listed on the stock market have fallen 22% this year, reported Le Figaro on Tuesday (p.27).
The daily pointed out that these firms saw their shares lose ground in 2018, but their share price fall has been more dramatic this year.
One reason behind the fall could be the disappointments experienced by larger biotechs, which has made investors more suspicious as a whole. One example is vaccine-specialist Neovacs which halted payments last month due to a lack of funding.
However, the fact that French biotechs tend to only have one product and are not visible to overseas investors could also be having an impact.
But it is hoped this will change in 2020 as 10 French biotechs and medtechs are expecting to publish the results of Phase III trials. One of these is Genfit, which will publish the results for its non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) disease drug - elafibranor.

Astellas snaps up Audentes Therapeutics for €3 billion

Astellas is paying around €3 billion for Audentes Therapeutics, Les Echos (p.17) reported on Wednesday (APMHE 65354).
The acquisition has already been approved by the two boards and is expected to complete in the first quarter of 2020. Astellas is paying $60 a share, a 110% premium on Audentes close-of-day share price.
Audentes is working on gene therapies to help in particular young children who cannot stand up, sit down or straighten up without help. The U.S. biotech is looking to replace faulty genes. Although their solutions are not yet on the market, analysts see a lot of potential given that gene therapies can be priced at several hundreds of thousands of euros per patient.
Les Echos pointed out that this is just the latest pharma to buy a biotech, noting that Roche agreed to buy Spark Therapeutics in February, Biogen Nightstar Therapeutics in April and Novartis AveXis last year.

Patient families take stand in Mediator trial

Patient families are starting to take the stand in the ongoing trial on Servier's Mediator (benfluorex), reports L’Humanité on Friday (p.16).
The first to take the stand were the relatives of Pascale Saroléa - who died in 2004 - told of the health problems that eventually led to her death started after she took Mediator in 2003 to lose weight - despite Servier claiming the drug was not an appetite suppressant.
Other families and patients themselves are expecting to take the stand in the next few days as the trial continues.

French biotech raises €48 million for immunotherapy

French biotech ImCheck Therapeutics has raised €48 million for its immunotherapy which stimulates or modifies the immune system to treat cancers, auto-immune diseases and infectious diseases, reported Les Echos (p.25) on Thursday.
ImCheck will use the funds to work on its pipeline, notably to carry out its first Phase I-II trial with its most advanced drug ICT01. The trial will involve patients with all types of cancer at all stages who have not responded to approved treatments.

France's Prescrire publishes list of drugs 'more dangerous than useful'

Prescrire has published its updated list of drugs ''more dangerous than useful'', reported Le Parisien on Monday (p.21) (APMHE 65340).
The 2020 list includes 105 drugs - 92 of which are marketed in France - that the guide believes should not be used based on analyses it published between 2010 and 2020.
This year, 12 new products were added to the list, including ginkgo biloba for mental disorders in the elderly due to risk of haemorrhage, digestive disorders and conclusions and pentoxyverine-based cough syrups which can lead to cardiac issues and serious allergic reactions.
Prescrire updates its list regularly, the daily paper noted, adding and removing drugs as necessary. Prescrire also states that the drugs on the list are not necessarily future Mediators (benfluorex) - at the heart of an ongoing legal case involving France's drugs' regulator ANSM and its marketing company Servier - if players in the healthcare industry react in time.
Le Monde Science & Médécine also reported on the subject on Wednesday (p.3).

Merck KGaA to invest €20 million in site in France

Merck KGaA will invest €20 million in its factory in Alsace, eastern France, reported Les Echos (p.28) on Tuesday.
Merck is looking to create five new production lines and employ around 130 more people at the site, which is the biggest in France and the third biggest worldwide.
The site had sales of €1.1 billion in 2018 and amongst other things produces laboratory equipment, including petri dishes full of ''gel'' for sample comparing.

French biotech Cell-Easy looks to cut cost of cell therapy

French biotech Cell-Easy is looking to cut the cost of cell therapy by using an innovative procedure to cultivate mesenchymal stem cells on a large scale, reported Les Echos on Tuesday (p.28).
Current cell therapies are 90% based on cells that come from the patient the therapy is intended to treat and as a result are very expensive. Cell-Easy aims to cut these costs by 10, even 100, by multiplying the number of transplantable stem cells of hundreds of patients.
The company is hoping to use its cells in trials for gum, Alzheimer's and Crohn's disease and is looking to start producing clinical batches by the end of 2020.

Sanofi Espoir foundation aims to support children with cancer in developing world

The Sanofi Espoir foundation is supporting projects which aim to improve the chances of children with cancer in countries in development, reported La Croix on Monday (p.22-23).
Under its 'My Child Matters' campaign, it looks to encourage child patient access to diagnostics and care in countries classified as low and lower-middle income by The World Bank.
The campaign - launched at the end of 2005 - has seen 58 projects set up in 42 countries, with 89,000 children cared for and 25,000 healthcare professionals trained.
In 10 years, it has seen the rate of children diagnosed late fall from 70% to 30% and the rate of children who abandon treatment drop from 80% to 10%.
The foundation's statutes mean that it cannot finance drug purchases or research programmes, to prevent a potential conflict of interests between its actions and Sanofi as a pharma company.
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