Press review

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California could become its own pharmaceutical brand

LONDON, 10 Jan (APM) - California could become the first state with its own prescription drug label under a new proposal from Governor Gavin Newsom, the Mail Online reported.
Newsom wants the nation's most populous state, home to nearly 40 million people, to contract with generic drug companies to make prescription medications on its behalf so it could then sell them to the public.
California has seen steeper drug price hikes than any other U.S. state in recent years and hopes that by competing with established generic makers it can create more competition and thereby drive down prices, the Mail said.
"It's time to take the power out of the hands of greedy pharmaceutical companies," the Democratic governor tweeted.
Generic drug prices in California jumped 37.6% since 2017, the largest increase of any drug category, according to a recent report from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, the Mail said.
The proposal, for example, could help lower costs of a common drug that has steadily increased in price - insulin for diabetes patients. Three drug companies control most of the market for insulin.
"Consumers would directly benefit if California contracted on its own to manufacture much-needed generic medications like insulin - a drug that has been around for a century yet the price has gone up over tenfold in the last few decades," said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California.
Jon Roth, CEO of the California Pharmacists Association, said the state might be surprised, however, at how much it ends up charging for its own generic drugs because of factors beyond its control, including raw material shortages and disruptions in the supply chain.
"There are other factors in the actual manufacturing that the state may not be able to escape," he said.

Crispr to be used in humans this year

The Financial Times on Tuesday reported that Crispr-Cas9 gene editing technology will be deployed like a drug for the first time in humans this year.
The paper said the technology allows scientists to make precise changes to DNA at specific points and "could transform treatment of genetic diseases".
The article noted that last year saw the first trial to use Crispr to edit blood cells taken out of the body that were then returned. This year's studies will go further as Crispr will be injected into the bodies of patients so live editing can take place.
Trials will be carried out by companies such as Editas Medicine, which is looking to restore people's sight, and Intellia Therapeutics, which is looking to cure amyloidosis.

Hikma shares down

The Times on Tuesday said that shares in Hikma Pharmaceuticals fell by 74p, or 3.7%, to £19.12 yesterday, making it one of the biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 index.
The fall came after JP Morgan Cazenove said that it expected consensus forecasts for the generics company to be trimmed in March, when Hikma issues its guidance for its new financial year.
The paper noted the company's owners are attempting to turn around Hikma, including rebuilding its pipeline and moving into specialty products.

AI beats human doctors in identifying brain tumours

The Times on Tuesday reported on a study that showed an artificially intelligent computer system is better at identifying brain tumours from scans than a human doctor.
The paper said that researchers used an advanced form of imaging combined with an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm to see how successful it would be at correctly identifying tumours in scans.
The AI diagnosis was 94.6% accurate, compared with 93.6% for a human pathologist. It was also far quicker.

Silence partners with Takeda on gene silencing programme

The Times on Wednesday reported on a partnership between UK-based biotech Silence Therapeutics and Japanese pharma giant Takeda.
Silence is developing medicines using technology that can selectivity inhibit any gene in the genome, "silencing" the production of disease-causing proteins, said the paper.
It added that under the deal with Takeda, Silence said that it would "explore the potential of utilising Silence’s platform to generate siRNA molecules against a novel, undisclosed target discovered by Takeda".
Shares in Silence Therapeutics closed 26p up at 350p on Tuesday night.

No link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer - study

Using talcum powder does not increase the risk of ovarian cancer, according to a major study, the Mail Online reported on Tuesday.
Controversy has surrounded the use of the powder on women's genitals since the 1970s, after the talc mineral was discovered to be contaminated with asbestos - which is known to cause cancer.
But a review of four U.S. studies of more than a quarter of a million women has now declared there is 'no significant association' between the powder and cancer, the Mail reported.
Scientists praised the study, calling it 'robust' and 'very well conducted', and said it was reassuring for women worried about using talcum powder.
It comes after Johnson & Johnson was in 2018 ordered to pay £3.6 billion ($4.7 billion) in compensation to 22 women who won a U.S. lawsuit in which they claimed the firm's baby powder gave them cancer. (APMHE 58912)
The company also recalled 33,000 bottles of talc in the US in October 2019 because regulators found traces of asbestos in it.

Being overweight increases risk of any kind of cancer by 12%, study

Being overweight or obese increases the risk of several common cancers, according to a study, the Mail reported on Wednesday.
Researchers from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark found a 12% risk associated with being dangerously overweight.
This includes breast cancer, kidney cancer, gallbladder cancer, leukaemia, brain cancer and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
The team said that the rising rates of obesity and severe obesity will increase the rates of cancers across the board, take a toll on healthcare costs and see more people dying prematurely.
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