Press review

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EU cancer plan a 'blank cheque' for cancer drugs

MADRID, 21 Feb (APM) - Financial newspaper El Economista on Friday carries a story about the 'EU Beating Cancer Plan' launched this week, saying it is a "blank cheque" for cancer treatments.
The paper says: "The European Union will not economise in building its Beating Cancer Plan, expected by the end of this year." In a letter responding to questions from a number of MEPs, the Commission said that the project will be funded as needed to meet the goal of minimising the impact of cancer. (APMHE 66111)
At this moment it is not possible to specify, but considering the importance that the Commission has given the plan, its initiatives will have as much funding as is required, the newspaper reports.
Dolors Montserrat, MEP and former health minister, told El Economista that she is convinced the funds will be provided as the plan is presented this year and they will not be delayed.
The newspaper quotes sources from Spanish branded pharma lobby Farmaindustria as saying that it is still too soon to comment on the details of the plan, but the announcement of an EU strategy against cancer, with accompanying funds, is certainly good news.
A spokesperson from Novartis in Spain said: "It is excellent news knowing that we can count on the commitment to design a new plan to meet patients' needs in Europe. Fortunately, advances in the field of new treatments, diagnostic tools and prevention strategies are transforming the prognosis of cancer."
El Economista also quotes sources from Roche, where the news was received with "enthusiasm" as adding that the inclusion of biomarkers as diagnostic criteria must be included in the plan to determine if a treatment will be efficient in specific patients.

Sanofi joins race for a coronavirus vaccine

Sanofi is following competitors Johnson & Johnson and others in the race to end the coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemic, financial newspaper Cinco Días reported on Wednesday.
The financial said that Sanofi's experience with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002 will be an advantage in the fight against this new disease.
The French company is working with the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development (BARDA), a government agency which provides funds for R&D initiatives. The newspaper quoted Bloomberg as emphasising that Sanofi had previously worked to develop a vaccine for SASRS. (APMHE 66274)
In an unrelated Saturday story, daily newspaper El Mundo reported that a clinical trial, including 500 patients infected with Covid-19, has started to assess the safety and efficacy of Gilead's remdesivir to treat the infection. (APMHE 66146)
Europa Press agency also carried the story about remdesivir on Saturday.
Stories about the virus have been included in Spanish daily newspapers daily, but few mentioned pharmaceutical companies.

Patient's call for compassionate use of Avastin

A patient suffering from neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) has made a "desperate call" to receive Roche's Avastin (bevacizumab) under a compassionate use scheme, daily 20 Minutos reported on Thursday.
The patient told 20 Minutos that he does not understand why he has had no reply after four formal requests for the drug. Hospital management argued that the medicine is not approved in this indication.
The patient said that clinical trials have suggested the drug can be effective in treating vestibular schwannoma, the kind of tumour that he has developed. It has been associated with tumour shrinkage in 41% of cases and can stop tumour growth in 80% of patients, he added.
Hospital sources denied that the treatment has been denied based on its cost, "because it is an affordable drug". Instead, they said bevacizumab is being used in a clinical trial in similar patients, but it is still being assessed. There are not enough safety data to use it out of the study protocol.
A special committee is studying this case so that, if it is eventually administered to this patient, it will be under the best possible conditions.

New targeted drug shows promise in kidney cancer

Researchers at the U.S. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have seen promising results in experimental drug MK-6482 to treat patients with metastatic clear cell renal carcinoma (RCC), Europa Press agency reported on Saturday.
In an article published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the authors say that the oral drug was effective in 24% of patients regardless of their risk levels. MK-6482 interferes with the (HIF) 2-a factor, which promotes the growth of blood vessels to supply kidney tumours with oxygen, Europa Press said.
A total of 55 patients were included in the study. They had all received at least three courses of different treatments prior to being included and the average follow-up was 13 months, the agency added.
Some regional media carried the story on the weekend.
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