Press review


Sanders calls Gilead 'immoral' for attempting to extend patent of HIV drug Descovy

LONDON, 13 Dec (APM) - The Guardian on Monday covered comments by U.S. Democratic politicians Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accusing Gilead of "deceitful and immoral" behaviour by aiming to extend the patent on anti-HIV drug Descovy.
"It is an absolute disgrace that in America, a greedy drug company like Gilead can deprive hundreds of thousands of Americans of lifesaving HIV medicine to extract more profit, lie about it, and then have the audacity to ask the US government to award it with a longer monopoly to reap tens of billions more in profits," Sanders said in a letter to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
"We have got to block this obscene giveaway for corporate wrongdoing. The Trump adminitraiton must not reward Gilead for this immoral behaviour."

Opioid makers used parody music videos to encourage salespeople

The Guardian on Saturday said that some manufacturers of opioid products made parody music videos in an effort to inspire salespeople to push doctors to prescribe more of their highly addictive products.
The revelation was part of evidence in a multi-stage lawsuit being fought in Ohio that alleges companies engaged in illicit marketing practices to push sales of the addictive pain medicines.
In an example from 2011, Purdue Pharma produced a music video for a sales conference for a new opioid called Butran, in which sales officials mimicked the melody to Dynamite by Taio Cruz, singing: "'Cause I sold you once, now I sold you twice."

Sanofi ends research in diabetes and heart disease to focus on growth areas

The FT on Monday reported on Sanofi's decision to restructure its business to focus on growth areas such as oncology, rare diseases and immunology while ending research into diabetes and heart disease (APHMHE 65437).
The paper said the move is intended to lead to €2 billion in efficiency savings by 2022. The French pharma also announced its consumer healthcare division would become a standalone business.
Sanofi had earlier signalled its ambitions in oncology with its agreement to buy cancer-focused biotech ArQule for $2.7 billion, said the paper.

Conservative victory in UK election

The Conservative victory in the UK general election was widely covered on Friday.
Little mention was made of the potential impact on life sciences. However, most papers discussed the increased likelihood of Brexit due to the Conservative majority.
On healthcare, The Times said Prime Minister Boris Johnson must now square the need to bring in doctors, nurses and low-skilled care workers with a post-Brexit immigration system.
The Daily Telegraph looked at the Conservative plans for the NHS, including a commitment to an extra £34 billion-a-year in funding by 2024.

Survey shows levels of non-adherence in UK

The Mail on Sunday reported on a survey showing that nearly half of adults in the UK admit to regularly forgetting to take medication, while one in five say they do not adhere to the instructions of their GP.
The survey, carried out by online chemist Pharmacy2U, also found that one in six 16-to-24-year-olds had stopped a course of treatment because it was interfering with their social life, said the paper.

UK recalls Emerade auto-injector

UK drug regulator the MHRA said that all batches of Bausch & Lomb's Emerade adrenaline auto-injector had been recalled from pharmacies after an error was identified that can cause some pens to fail to activate, the Sunday Times said.
The recall follows the death of a teenager whose family say the product failed, said the paper.
The Emerade pens are not being recalled from patients, because there are insufficient supplies of the alternative brands — EpiPen and Jext — to replace them.
The alert for healthcare professionals states they should "stop supplying the product immediately" and return it to the supplier.

MHRA considering recall of metformin

The Daily Mail on Tuesday said UK drug regulator the MHRA is considering whether similar supplies of diabetes drug metformin should be recalled due to the possibility of contamination with NDMA, a chemical linked to cancer.
It follows reports that metformin supplies in Singapore have been recalled after authorities found small amounts of NDMA.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Health Canada and the European Medicines Agency are investigating the issue, added the paper.

FT special report on regenerative medicine

The FT on Monday carried several features on regenerative medicines as part of a special report on the area.
These included a piece on biotech companies defending the high prices of one-off gene therapies such as Luxturna for inherited retinal eye disease, which costs $850,000 in the U.S.; Zolgensma for spinal muscular atrophy, which costs $2.1 million; and Zynteglo for a rare blood disease, which costs $1.78 million.
It quoted David Lennon, president of AveXis, the biotech company behind Zolgensma that was bought by Novartis
He said: "The view that Zolgensma is the most expensive therapy in the world is, frankly, wrong. When you consider the cost of therapy over the course of someone's life, you're talking about millions of dollars. The fact that we compress the cost into one treatment makes it look expensive."
The FT also looked at the UK Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, saying it is helping out the UK at the forefront of cell and gene therapy.
It quoted the group's chief executive Keith Thompson who summed up its success.
"So, 22 companies in 2012, 70 now. £35 million of investment attracted in 2012. We've counted £2.5 billion cumulative since then."
Other areas covered by the FT included organoids - miniature human organs derived from stem cells; 3D printing of organs; gene editing's potential to support animal to human transplants; and advances in gene therapy for blindness.

Psychedelic drug could treat addiction

The Times on Wednesday said that trials of a psychedelic drug derived from a hallucinogenic West African shrub are to begin next year to investigate its effectiveness in treating addiction.
However, the paper said there may be issues as ibogaine, the key ingredient in the non-hallucinogenic compound 18-MC, is classified as a Schedule 1 drug in the U.S., making possession illegal and subject to the same restrictions as LSD or ecstasy.
It added that is unclear whether the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will classify the compound as being similar to ibogaine or relax regulations, or if state administrations will take a different stance to federal authorities

Study backs safety of psilocybin

The FT on Wednesday said that psilocybin, the main psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, has taken a step towards becoming a treatment for depression after the completion of a controlled clinical study initiated by Compass Pathways.
The paper said that King's College London has release results of a Phase I trial of 89 healthy volunteers divided at random into groups who receive different doses of psilocybin or a placebo. The study showed there were no serious adverse events and no negative effects on cognitive or emotional functioning for those on psilocybin.
It quoted the study's lead investigator James Rucker, who said: "The results of the study are clinically reassuring and support further development of psilocybin as a treatment for patients with mental health problems that haven't improved with conventional therapy, such as treatment-resistant depression."
The Times covered the study on Friday, saying that if future trials go well and prove the efficacy of psilocybin, the company said that Compass Pathways hoped to have the treatment on the market by 2025.

Drug shows promise in stopping spread of triple negative breast cancer

The Daily Mail on Monday reported on trials of MS1943, which has shown it can prevent the spread of triple negative breast cancer on human tumour cells growing in a lab and in living mice.
The article quoted Dr Jian Jin, director of the Mount Sinai Center for Therapeutics Discovery in New York, who said: "Our findings suggest EZH2 selective degraders such as MS1943 may provide an emerging therapeutic approach for the treatment of triple-negative breast cancer."

EnteroBiotix developing pill for faecal transplants

The Times on Tuesday carried a feature on Scottish biotech EnteroBiotix and its technology that could allow faecal transplants by drying the healthy bacteria found in faeces and putting it in a pill.
The paper described faecal transplants as "one of the great hopes of medicine", saying that the microbiome has been linked to a range of diseases.
However, the treatment currently involves a tube to the stomach.
That is why EnteroBiotix is working to develop a better system, in which key bacteria are isolated and dried, without killing the microbes, then encapsulated to be taken orally, said The Times.

U.S. property firm looking for lab locations in UK

The Daily Telegraph on Monday reported that San Diego-based real estate firm Creative Science Properties has teamed up with estate agent Savills to scout out locations in Cambridge, Oxford and London where new labs could be built.
Rob Sadler, from Savills, said there is growing demand for extra space from the UK's world-class pharmaceutical companies. The cheap pound has also made the UK an attractive place for investment, said the paper.



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