Press review

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Cancer drugs account for half of clinical trials in Spain

MADRID, 31 Jan (APM) - Half of the clinical trials funded by branded pharma in Spain assess cancer drugs, Europa Press agency, medical journals IM Médico Hospitalario, Acta Sanitaria and Redacción Médica report on Friday.
Redacción Médica quotes data from Spanish branded drug lobby group Farmaindustria as saying that pharma devotes half of its R&D investment to oncology.
According to the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM), there will be more than 277,300 people living with cancer in Spain in 2020. Pharma is committed to bringing new, more targeted and effective treatments for this disease, the journal adds.
Europa Press says that Spanish regulator AEMPS authorised 309 clinical trials of cancer medicines in 2019. Additionally, more than 1,800 new drugs to treat cancer are being developed by pharma globally, the agency notes.
Spain's cancer drug spend, including both innovative and conventional drugs, was €1.8 billion in 2018, the latest data provided by the Spanish health ministry. This sum represents 10% of the country's public drug bill and 2.8% of the healthcare budget. Both percentages are below those of 2015, when there were fewer cancer diagnosed and therapies were scarcer, Europa Press reports.
IM Médico Hospitalario quotes Farmaindustria director general Humberto Arnés as saying: "Cancer is one of the most important challenges in modern society. Pharma is a strategic partner for healthcare systems to face it."

R&D spend grows 70% to €1.8 billion in a decade

Pharma's profit margins have dropped to 2010 levels with R&D costs skyrocketing to €1.8 billion per medicine and lower sales of new therapies, financial Cinco Días reported on Thursday.
According to a report by consulting firm Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions, based on the analysis of 12 big pharmaceutical companies, over the past 10 years average sales per drug have slumped 54% to €340 million.
The report pointed out that new biological medicines such as antibodies, whose development is more complex and more expensive, are taking over conventional drugs. Biologicals currently account for 47% of the companies' pipelines, the financial added.
The report said: "The switch to more complex models and therapeutic areas has also affected the time cycle of clinical trials." The increased focus on oncology, with longer average development cycles, is also to be considered.
Jorge Bagán, from Deloitte, told Cinco Días that pricing controls and budgetary woes in public healthcare systems are two other factors which further complicate the future of innovation. Ways to reduce R&D costs, speed up clinical trials, make the best of new technologies and adaptability to new demands, will be key in the future of pharma, he said.

Drug shortages up 60% in 2019

CISMED, the information system created by Spanish pharmacists' association CGCOF, has registered a 60% increase in drug shortages in 2019, affecting to a total of 363 medicines, daily newspaper El Mundo reported on Saturday. Daily newspaper El Periódico, medical journals Acta Sanitaria, Redacción Médica and a number of regional newspapers carried the story on Wednesday.
Half of the affected medicines are prescribed to treat cardiovascular and neurological conditions. By the end of the year, Spanish regulator AEMPS had declared 40% of the affected drug as unavailable, El Mundo reported.
The newspaper noted that the shortages were discussed at a meeting in Alicante, where the president of regional pharmacists’ association AFCV said shortages do not necessarily mean a drug is unavailable. It can also mean that the number of packages is limited or that the medicine could be delivered in a few days, sometimes weeks.
In any case, it poses a big problem for consumers, who have to go to a number of pharmacies in search of their medicines. Jesús Aguilar, CGCOF president, also a speaker, emphasised that pharmacists have contributed to make the problem an issue in the agenda of healthcare authorities, El Mundo added.

Rapamycin and rapamycin-like drugs to target ageing

On Wednesday, daily newspaper El País carried a lengthy interview with David Sabatini, researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who said that rapamycin and a number of similar molecules can target ageing.
Sabatini said that even though the best way to use these medicines in a safe, efficient way has yet to be found, they have enormous potential. "One of their indications is immunosuppression. In cardiology, they can prevent stenosis. They can also be used to fight some tumours, particularly in kidney and breast cancer and treat certain autoimmune conditions," he said.
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