Press review

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Spain's finance minister planning tendering process nationwide

MADRID, 24 (APM) - The newly appointed Spanish minister of finance, who implemented drug tenders in Andalusia when she was the region's health chief, is planning to bring in the same system across the country, financial newspaper El Economista reported on Tuesday.
According to the newspaper, the planned tendering process could be included in the national budget that the ministry finance is working on. Minister María Jesús Montero is counting on the support of a new ally, the minister of social security, José Luis Escrivá, who supported drug tenders when they were enforced in Andalusia. (APMHE 58390)
Montero's arguments to support the tenders before European authorities in Brussels in 2016 and 2019 were partially based on a report by government agency Airef, which Escrivá chaired at the time. (APMHE 48751)
In its report, Airef estimated that drug tenders could generate savings of about €1 billion, the financial reported.
Drug tenders will be one of the most important challenges for pharma to face in 2020 in Spain. The system showed a moderate efficacy in terms of bringing savings for the government of Andalusia, but it also caused continuous shortages and was criticised by pharma companies, pharmacists' associations, generics manufacturers and patients' associations. (APMHE 63071)
Representatives of pharmacists' associations argued that patients were forced to buy their medicines in different packages each time because of shortages, which could damage treatment adherence.
Spain's president Pedro Sánchez has supported the plan via social media, El Economista added.
The new regional government of Andalusia, where conservative PP (People's Party) is now in office, announced it is to end drug tenders this month. (APMHE 61372) However, its health chief has toned down its position and admitted a "reformulation" of tendering. No one has protested this so far. If orders come from the ministry of finance in Madrid, the region will have to conform, the financial noted.

Pharma's power damages 'alternative research'

On Saturday, daily newspaper El País carried an editorial with the headline: 'Public research [needed] to fight cancer', arguing that big pharma companies monopolise the development of new medicines with their focus on revenue.
According to the editorial, "leaving the development of new medicines in the hands of big pharma poses a serious problem of which governments do not appear to be aware".
The author argued that industry acquires promising molecules or even the small start-ups which discovered them. However, once they have these in their hands, pharma companies devote their "colossal R&D machinery" to developing a drug which makes up for their investment and brings substantial revenue.
This can be an excellent policy for shareholders, but certainly not for patients, the article added. "Many alternative studies, some of which are as promising as those chosen by pharma but are not expected to bring so much revenue, or any at all, are left aside," the author said.
According to the editorial, it is obvious that the only strategy to sort out the situation is supporting public research. As an example, it said that cancer studies to fully develop the potential of some drugs are needed. However, pharma does not invest further once a medicine starts bringing profits.

Non-oncology drugs found to kill cancer cells

A U.S. research team has found that 49 drugs used to treat a number of conditions, including diabetes and inflammation, have anti-cancer properties, daily newspapers El Mundo, ABC, El Periódico, financial newspaper El Economista and Europa Press agency reported on Tuesday.
Such properties were even found in a medicine which is administered to dogs with arthritis, the newspaper said.
This is the biggest research of its kind. Other outstanding "drug repurposing" precedents include studies which found the cardiovascular benefits of taking aspirin and the observations that linked sildenafil to an improvement in men with erectile dysfunction.
The research was published in the journal Nature Cancer. El Mundo quoted the authors as cautioning that a number of analysis on the drugs will have to be done and their safety and efficacy assessed in clinical trials before any of them can be considered cancer medicines.

No drugs or vaccine for novel coronavirus

On Friday, daily newspaper ABC carries a story with the headline: 'Drugs which can treat China's coronavirus', only to explain that there is no specific treatment for the infection and that making a vaccine could take at least one year.
The article quotes immunologist Anthony Fauci, who wrote in JAMA that broad-spectrum antivirals are being assessed as possible treatments for coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

EMA suspends Leo Pharma's Picato

The European Medicines Agency's suspension of Leo Pharma's Picato over concerns about a possible link between the use of the drug and skin cancer, was widely covered over the weekend. (APMHE 65892)
Daily newspapers El País, La Vanguardia, 20 Minutos, Europa Press agency, medical journals Redacción Médica and Acta Sanitaria and a number of regional newspapers carried the story.
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