Press review

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Spain cancels all medical meetings over coronavirus fears - press

MADRID, 6 Mar (APM) - All medical meetings have been cancelled or suspended in Spain following a decision by the Spanish health ministry, it has been widely reported this week.
Spanish health minister Salvador Illa said on Tuesday that sports events, involving teams from risk countries, should be held without spectators and that all seminars, meetings and congresses involving healthcare professionals should be cancelled. Many newspapers focused on the sports angle, but they also covered the suspension of medical and professional meetings across the country.
On Wednesday, daily newspaper ABC reported that all meetings for healthcare professionals have been cancelled by the health ministry and that restrictions have been imposed on sports events. The newspaper quoted health minister Salvador Illa as saying: "We need our healthcare professionals."
On the same day, daily newspaper 20 Minutos and EFE agency reported in a different tone, that the ministry "had recommended" healthcare professionals not to attend meetings and seminars with colleagues.
On Sunday, two days before Illa spoke about the matter, medical journal Diario Médico said that the cancellations of important medical meetings, which had already begun, could contribute to the current coronavirus scare.
Both Diario Médico and daily newspaper El Mundo reported on Sunday that Spanish medical association OMC had advised healthcare professionals to avoid attending or promoting meetings at hospitals where patients infected with COVID-19 were being treated.
None of them addressed the disparity between that recommendation and the cancellation of all meetings as announced by Illa. El País reported about this recommendation on Monday.
On Wednesday, El Mundo carried a story focused on the economic impact of cancelling congresses, estimated to be at least €30 million for those scheduled to take place in the Balearic Islands in 2019.
On Thursday, it carried a piece quoting Fernando Simón, head of the crisis panel at the health ministry, as saying that cooperation with a number of companies has already started in order to guarantee drug provisions. (APMHE 66450)
A number of regional newspapers covered the cancellation of meetings planned to be held in their respective areas.
Regarding pharmaceutical firms' developments in the COVID-19 pandemic, financial newspaper Cinco Días reported that PharmaMar is testing one of its cancer drugs to treat the virus and that Barcelona-based Grifols is working on a diagnosis test and a treatment for the infection. The stories were published on Monday and Wednesday respectively.
References to Takeda's statement about a potential plasma-derived therapy (APMHE 66443) appear on medical journals Acta Sanitaria and Redacción Médica on Friday.

Public R&D to make up for pharma's gaps

On Friday, daily newspaper El País carries a lengthy story about public research initiatives making up for a lack of medicines in areas in which pharma is not interested.
The article acknowledges the contribution of pharmaceutical companies to control diseases such as hepatitis C and cancer, but also adds that they look for revenue in the development of new drugs, which limits their scope.
One of those publicly funded R&D programmes are the ones focused on trastuzumab, in which research teams in France and the UK are working on to find out if six months of treatment has similar outcomes to a course of one whole year.
In Spain, public research platforms like the Ovarian Cancer Research Group (GEICO) carry out similar research and occasionally collaborates with pharmaceutical firms. One of their most recent achievements is the finding that certain surgical criteria in patients with ovarian cancer are more efficient in terms of progression-free survival, GEICO head Antonio González told the newspaper.

Biotech's spending on R&D jumps

The total expenditure devoted to biotech-related internal R&D was €1.7 billion in 2018, 5.3% higher than the previous year, according to the National Statistics Institute (INE), daily newspaper La Vanguardia reported on Sunday.
Biotechnology programmes accounted for 11.9% of all internal (carried out by companies' workforce) R&D, INE has said.
The number of people employed in biotech internal R&D initiatives grew 3.2% to 27,556 in 2018 compared to 2017. These individuals account for 12.2% of all R&D-devoted workers.
A few regional newspapers carried the story, focusing on regional data, also provided by INE.

First patient receives CRISPR gene-editing therapy

For the first time, a patient has received in vivo CRISPR editing, in an experiment to treat an inherited form of blindness called Leber congenital amaurosis, daily newspaper ABC reports on Friday.
The newspaper quotes researcher Mark Pennesi, from Portland University, as saying: "It is a very exciting time." Pennesi is working with a number of pharmaceutical companies in the development of the treatment, now tested under the BRILLIANCE trial programme, ABC reports.

Pricing incentives to orphan drugs in Spain

On Wednesday, daily newspaper La Vanguardia and medical journal El Médico Interactivo reported that the Spanish council of ministers announced incentives for pharma to develop new medicines for rare diseases. (APMHE 66444)
These drugs will be excluded from the reference pricing system. The decision was announced by finance minister María Jesús Montero at a press conference after the meeting of the council, La Vanguardia noted.

Only half of EU-approved orphan drugs available in Spain

On Sunday, financial newspaper El Economista reported that there are currently 103 EU approved orphan drugs, but only 53 of them (50%) are available in Spain, according to a report by orphan medicines manufacturers association AELMHU. (APMHE 66374)
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