Press review

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Drug shortages are increasing in Poland and the coronavirus could be to blame

Country : Belgium, China, Europe, Poland, U.S.

Keywords :
WARSAW, 28 Feb (APM) - Poland has shortages of 48 drugs, according to a report by Polish pharmacy database GdziePoLek, and the situation could be deteriorating because of the coronavirus outbreak, Gazeta Wyborcza (p17) reported on Tuesday.
The 48 drugs include treatments for joint and eyes diseases, and mucoviscidosis. Parkinson’s disease therapies including Roche's Madopar (levodopa+benserazide), Adamed's Hitoff (pramipeksol) and Krka's Oprymea (pramipexole) are also on the list, as is Merck KGaA's thyroid drug Euthyrox N (levothyroxine).
Around 60%-80% of active ingredients used in the production of drugs in Europe are imported from China. Many of those are produced in the Hubei province, where a lot of production facilities have been closed due to the coronavirus.

Pharma conduct research into a coronavirus cure

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus - known as COVID-19 - has set pharma companies worldwide on a search for preventions and treatments, Rzeczpospolita (pA5) reported on Wednesday and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (pA6-A7) reported on Friday.
According to Chinese officials, the first vaccine to enter clinical trials should be ready by the end of April.
Reports have suggested that, following clinical trials on 70 patients from the Guangdong province, the Chinese National Medical Products Administration has approved Faviravil, a strong antiviral, as an experimental drug used to fight the disease, reported Rzeczpospolita. However, according to experts such a report might be a little far-fetched, as the development of a working vaccine can take years.
Another U.S. company, Moderna Therapeutics, claims to have produced the first batch of SARS-2-CoV vaccine just 42 days after obtaining the virus’ DNA sequence (APMHE 66347). Meanwhile, Novavax claims to have discovered a working cure for the virus, added Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.
The U.S.-based Innovation Pharmaceuticals is working on antibiotic brilacidin, which is effective against both bacteria and viruses. Inovio Pharmaceuticals started research on 30 January with Beijing Advaccine Biotechnology Company on INO-4800, the first vaccine-candidate against COVID-19, added Rzeczpospolita.
After identifying coronavirus antibodies in the blood of patients who have fully recovered from COVID-19, another biotech, Clover Biopharmaceuticals from Chengdu, is working on a vaccine called S-Trimer, which is based on the S cells of the virus (APMHE 66327). It is claimed the vaccine will be available six to eight weeks after the end of the pre-clinical trials, reported Rzeczpospolita.
Other companies working on a coronavirus vaccine are Vaxart, a Californian company developing a recombinant vaccination pill based on the virus’ genome, while the U.S.-Canadian CytoDyn is working on Leronlimab (PRO 140), a CCR5 antagonist, which has now entered phase II against HIV and could prove effective against coronaviruses, added Rzeczpospolita.
Finally, two U.S. biotechs, LineaRX and Takis Biotech, have formed a joint venture to create a linear vaccine against COVID-19 with the use of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR), concluded Rzeczpospolita.

Polish Police battle illegal exports

The Polish police and the Internal Security Agency (ABW) have arrested 16 people in the Tri-City connected with the so-called drug mafia illegally exporting drugs through a reverse distribution chain, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (pB6) reported on Monday.
The suspects include pharmacy managers, pharmacists and healthcare professionals. The group has exported drugs worth 15 million zlotys (€3.5 million) over 1.5 years of activity. The suspects face 10 years’ imprisonment.
The total value of the pharmacy market in Poland is currently estimated at 37 billion zlotys (€8.6 billion), while the value of illegal drug exports in 2018 is estimated at 2 billion zlotys (€460 million).

Pharmena plans to commercialise NASH treatment

Pharmena, a Polish dermo-cosmetics and dietary supplement producer, is entering the commercialisation phase of its 1-MNA molecule (TRIA-662), used for treating non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), Parkiet Gazeta Giełdy (p6) reported on Tuesday.
Pharmena also plans to present Phase II NASH data to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is now negotiating with select pharma firms on 1-MNA, to obtain 1 billion zlotys (€230 million) from three investors, including Pelion, to cover the costs of preparing the documentation.
The company also plans to commercialise its drug in the indication of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).
NASH drugs have proven notoriously tricky to bring to fruition.The global NASH market is estimated at $35 billion, while the PAH market in 2019 was over $6 billion.

Polish oncology patients have no access to innovative therapies

The situation of Polish cancer patients is among the worst in Europe, not only due to the lack of money for oncology (€96 per patient, compared to €260 in Belgium), but also the lack of innovative treatments, Gazeta Wyborcza (p6-7) reported on Saturday.
Of the 101 available therapies used for treating malignant tumours, only 44 are available in Poland, and prevention measures are poor, with almost no access to HPV vaccines), it noted.

Polish lung cancer patients need equal access to therapy

A recent report shows lung cancer is the most common malignant tumour and the main cause of death from cancer in Poland, while oncology experts and patient organisations propose a series of solutions to improve the situation, Rzeczpospolita (pA10) reported on Tuesday.
Each year in Poland, 14,000 men and 7,000 women are diagnosed with lung cancer, while 80% of cases are discovered too late.
Earlier diagnosis, increased access to molecular-targeted therapies and immunotherapies, the creation of lung cancer units and greater access to therapy will improve the survival rate of lung cancer patients in Poland, according to the report.

Ryvu Therapeutics is working on an innovative cancer drug

Ryvu Therapeutics has signed an agreement with the National Centre for Research and Development (NCBiR) for a grant of over 32.7 million zlotys (€7.6 million) for a cancer-targeted therapy based on 'synthetic lethality', Parkiet Gazeta Giełdy (p4) reported on Monday.
The project is valued at 55.4 million zlotys (€13 million) net and will run until December 2023. Consequently, Ryvu intends to propose a cancer treatment candidate for Phase I. Such low-molecular compounds have no direct competition, so Ryvu plans to protect its drug with patents.
The only known reference drugs are from the $1 billion agreement between Bayer and Loxo Oncology in 2017, as well as Talzenna (talazoparib), a synthetic lethality drug used for treating breast cancer bought by Pfizer from Medivation for $14 billion.

Bioton’s sale of SciGen will be audited

The sale of SciGen to Bioton’s Asian subsidiary, Yifan, for 100 million zlotys (€23 million) in cash will be audited at the request of one of the minority shareholders, Puls Biznesu (p6-7) reported on Tuesday.
The transaction was contested by the CEE Equity Partners fund because of the connections between the buyer and Jubo Liu, chairman of Bioton’s supervisory board. Yifan is currently Bioton’s largest shareholder, holding 32% of its shares.
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