Press review

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Big pharma to enjoy 7% sales growth in 2020 - German press

Country : China, Germany, U.S., UK

Keywords :
BERLIN, 10 Jan (APM) - The 10 largest pharma companies are likely to raise their turnover this year by 7% to almost $490 billion and net profit - adjusted for exceptional factors such as acquisition-related costs - to around $138 billion, according to analysts, Handelsblatt reported on Thursday (p20-21).
These estimates take into account effects of acquisitions and divestments, such as the jump in sales at U.S. group Bristol-Myers Squibb following the acquisition of Celgene and a Pfizer decline if it realises the spin-off of its Upjohn division into a new company.
According to Evaluate Pharma, AstraZeneca and BMS will each see sales rise by $3 billion, while sales for Merck & Co, Johnson & Johnson and AbbVie would jump by $2 billion to $2.6 billion.
The biggest uncertainty continues to be pharmaceutical prices in the U.S., although new statutory price restrictions in the country are unlikely to occur in the election year 2020.

Roche to see biosimilar competition on Avastin in summer

Roche will face biosimilar competition on its big-selling cancer drug Avastin (bevacizumab) in Germany from the summer, Handelsblatt reported on Tuesday (p19) (APMHE 65767).
German statutory health insurance spent around €393 million on Avastin in 2018. Avastin is the drug with the highest turnover among those which will lose patent protection in 2020 - totalling almost €700 million, according to market research institute Insight Health.
Biosimilars of cancer drugs launched in Germany have reached 60% market share a few months after launch, much quicker than biosimilars in other therapeutic areas.

U.S. and China outpace European cancer research

European cancer research centres have fallen behind U.S.- and China-based institutions in the discovery of new treatments, Handelsblatt reported on Wednesday (p16-17) (APMHE 65747).
According to a report from FAS Research commissioned by Pfizer, only two European institutions are among the world's 30 leading cancer research centres measured by the number of clinical studies and publications in 2013-2018, while the top positions are almost exclusively occupied by U.S. and Chinese centres.
According to FAS, the current trend is leading to a "duopoly between the U.S. and China, with Europe becoming a 'semi-periphery'".

UK biotech develops mushroom-based drug for depression

UK biotech Compass Pathways is developing a drug based on psilocybin, found in hallucinogenic mushrooms and acting likewise LSD, reports Wirtschaftswoche on Friday.
A therapy, needing a close monitoring after administration, might cost tens of thousands dollars, said German co-founder Lars Wilde, who was successfully treated with psilocybin for a treatment-resistant depression and generalised anxiety disorder. A clinical trial with 216 patients in treatment-resistant depression is about to start.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted breakthrough therapy status while the biotech has raised $35 million by tech investor Peter Thiel, billionaire Mike Novogratz and German serial entrepreneur Christian Angermayer.

Positive results for Merck KGaA's Bavencio in bladder cancer

Merck KGaA and Pfizer on Monday announced positive results in a confirmatory study of their immunotherapy Bavencio (avelumab) in first-line treatment of locally advanced or metastatic bladder cancer, FAZ said on Tuesday (p18) (APMHE 65715).
Bavencio has improved overall survival in a Phase III study in urothelial cancer, representing 90% of bladder cancer cases and which in turn is the 10th most common of all cancer forms, FAZ said.

Green party wants to ban exports to limit shortages

Germany's opposition party the Greens wants to ban exports of drugs at risk of shortages, FAZ reports on Friday (p18).
Green drug expert Cordula Schulz-Asche has suggested that payers should pay the higher costs of drug alternatives instead of patients. Moreover, the party wants drug wholesalers to have to report shortages to drugs' regulator BfArM, FAZ said.
Additional measures against drug shortages are planned to be introduced under the bill on 'fair competition between statutory payers' (GKV-FKG), scheduled to pass the lower chamber of Parliament Bundestag in February 2020 (APMHE 65273).

Bavarian pharmacists do not believe in drug shortages solution

Bavarian pharmacists do not believe that a solution for drug shortages will be found in the near future, Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reports on Friday (p35).
A solution for shortages would not be found, as "payers stick to discount agreements", a local Munich pharmacist told SZ.
A hospital pharmacist said that companies should be obliged to stockpile drugs, as the obligation for pharmacies to keep a two-weeks supply is not sufficient. The effort related to shortages costs hospitals a five-digit sum each month, she told SZ.
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