Press review

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Alnylam's success based on initial German research

BERLIN, 13 Dec (APM) - Alnylam's approved RNAi-based therapies Onpattro (patisiran) and Givlaari (givosiran) were initially developed by researchers from Germany's Max Planck Institute, Handelsblatt said on Tuesday (p22-23).
However, the company founded by German researchers Roland Kreutzer und Stefan Limmer in 2000, Ribopharma, ran out of money and was bought by U.S. company Alnylam after three years.
Alnylam has raised around $5 billion and got through $3 billion before Onpattro came on to the market. It would have been impossible for one German biotech to collect such sums and therefore to develop one of these drugs, Handelsblatt said.

Sanofi abandons diabetes R&D, Frankfurt site to be 'severely affected'

Sanofi will completely exit its traditional cardiovascular and diabetes research area, reported
FAZ on Wednesday (p22) and Handelsblatt on Thursday (p16-17, 28) (APMHE 65437).
If Sanofi really streamlines its huge range of old products, the French company will probably become smaller before it grows again.
The move is another example of a pharma company simultaneously expanding through acquisitions and concentrating its resources on fewer areas, like Merck & co, Pfizer, Novartis or GlaxoSmithKline, Handelsblatt said.
Although concrete measures are not yet known, the strategy change will "certainly have consequences for the Frankfurt-Höchst site", unionist Volker Weber, who is vice-chair of Sanofi Germany's supervisory board told FAZ (APMHE 65448).
Weber said he is "outraged" by Sanofi's chief executive's move to not notify the supervisory board before talking to the public. The union plans "hard negotiations and resistance" against Sanofi's plans in Germany, he added.

Bayer postpones two additional U.S/ glyphosate trials

The start of two additional U.S. lawsuits over claims Bayer's glyphosate-based weedkiller Roundup caused cancer, have been postponed in agreement with plaintiffs to give time for negotiating settlements, Handelsblatt reported on Monday (p21).
Of the two trials which were set to begin in January in two California courts, one has been postponed by six months, the other without a specific time. This adds to three postponements announced in October for the same reason while Bayer is facing 42,700 U.S. plaintiffs.
"The mediation talks keep running, but much remains to be achieved before some form of settlement can be reached," mediator Kenneth Feinberg told Handelsblatt.
According to analysts, the size of a future settlement might be in a range of $8 to $12 billion.

Walgreens Boots Alliance and McKesson to merge German wholesalers

U.S.-based pharmacy chains Walgreens Boots Alliance and McKesson have signed a deal to form a joint venture of their German subsidiaries, pharma wholesalers Alliance Healthcare and Gehe Pharmahandel, FAZ reports on Friday.
Under the agreement, Walgreens Boots would own 70% and McKesson 30% of the joint venture. The companies expect antitrust clearance to take at least six months.

Bayer plans to be carbon neutral in 2030

Bayer plans to become carbon neutral in its operations by 2030, Handelsblatt reported on Wednesday (p19, 28).
Bayer plans to invest primarily in energy efficiency and green electricity in order to meet 100% of its electricity needs from renewable sources. Remaining emissions will be offset in a way that "preserves biodiversity and creates new sources of income for farmers". The company will also help farmers apply more sustainable practices.
The new strategy, also presented by chief executive Werner Baumann in a guest commentary in Handelsblatt on Tuesday (p48), bears the signature of Bayer's head of lobbying and sustainability, Matthias Berninger, a former Green politician.

Canopy Growth eyes cannabis-based drug market in Europe

Canada's cannabis company, Canopy Growth, plans to enter the EU cannabis-based drug market with a first approval by 2022 or 2023, co-head of Europe Paul Steckler, told Handelsblatt on Monday (p26).
The most advanced development is on dronabinol in multiple sclerosis.
Once approved, finished medicinal products could be EU-wide marketed whereas regulations on cannabis preparations or flowers are country-specific, said Steckler, who has a strong pharmaceutical background, like the other co-head for Europe Steve Wooding.
The European market for cannabis preparations or flowers could reach a size of more than 7.6 million patients in Europe in a few years, he said.

Biogen presented new data on aducanumab

Last week, Biogen presented new data on its antibody aducanumab in patients with Alzheimer's disease, according to which the drug candidate has shown efficacy in high doses, FAZ reported on Sunday (p61) and SZ on Monday (p16).
Six months ago, Biogen had announced that it would drop development of aducanumab. However, after additional analysis, about two thirds of the 3,000 study participants were re-enrolled and have experienced a slower decline by up to 40%. Biogen has now filed for approval in the U.S., SZ reported.

Sanofi acquires biotech Synthorx

Sanofi has announced that it has signed a deal worth $2.5 billion to acquire U.S.-based biotech Synthorx to boost its immuno-oncology portfolio, FAZ (p20), Handelsblatt (p27) and SZ (p18) reported on Tuesday (APMHE 65421).
Synthorx's most advanced drug candidate is THOR-707, an immunotherapy currently in Phase I, which Sanofi plans to market as a combination partner for other cancer drugs. Sanofi has agreed to pay $68 a share, which is a surcharge of 172%, SZ said.
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