Press review

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Coronavirus does not pose immediate threat to French drug supplies

PARIS, 6 Mar (APM) - Coronavirus does not pose an immediate threat to French drug supplies, reported Les Echos on Wednesday (p.22).
The economic daily noted that in the immediate term, French stocks are acting as a shock absorber and will continue to do so for several months. But on an international scale, pharma heads are saying that there could be shortages in France in Q2 or Q3, depending on the length and extent of the coronavirus epidemic.
According to French pharma body Leem, only 22% of drugs sold in France are manufactured in the country. The main issue, the paper continued, is that the active ingredients for 80% of these drugs are manufactured in Asia - a third in India and two thirds in China.
The most at risk drugs are low-cost ones such as generics, whose production was delocalised to cut production costs.

Gilead buys Forty Seven for $4.9 billion

Gilead has bought biotech Forty Seven, which specialises in immune-oncology, for $4.9 billion, reported Les Echos on Tuesday (p.24) (APMHE 66417).
The operation means Gilead can progress in immunotherapy with an experimental therapy which could be the first in its category, said new chief executive Daniel O'Day.
Forty Seven's treatment - magrolimab - is a monoclonal antibody which targets a signal cancer cells emit, telling the body not to destroy them. By blocking this system, the treatment means the body's immune system can destroy the malignant cells.
Le Figaro also reported on the story on Tuesday (p.25).

Sanofi gets U.S. approval for cancer drug Sarclisa

Sanofi's Sarclisa (isatuximab-irfc) has been approved in the U.S. for multiple myeloma, Les Echos reported on Thursday (p.19) (APMHE 66425).
This is the pharma's second cancer drug approved since its return to the sector after six years of no product launches, with Libtayo (cemiplimab, with Regeneron) 18 months ago.
However, as with Libtayo, Sarclisa is a ''back door'' into the cancer market. It is approved after the failure of two other therapies, like Janssen's Darzalex (daratumumab) which has a similar mechanism of action.
Sanofi has a fight on its hands, given Darzalex is now available as first line treatment in addition to third line, and had sales of almost $3 billion.
Although Sarclisa is cheaper than Darzalex - $5,200 to $5,800 - Janssen is working on a way to administer its drug via an injection and therefore making it more comfortable.
Sanofi is also working on developing Sarclisa for other cancers and on SAR 439 859 which targets breast cancer via a new mechanism of action and SAR 408 701 - conjugated antibody - which is being testing for lung cancer.

Novartis fined in U.S. for price fixing

Novartis' generics division Sandoz will have to pay a $195 million fine in the U.S. relating to four cases of pricing fixing between 2013 and 2015, reported Le Figaro on Wednesday (p.23) (APMHE 66427).
The four cases were worth $500 million and saw Sandoz agree price fixing with four other pharma companies, including a subsidiary of the Indian pharma heavyweight Sun Pharma.
This is the largest fine of this type ever given in the U.S. the daily noted. This is no surprise, given that drug pricing is one of the topics to currently receive bipartisan support in the country.
Several pharmas have been accused of increasing their drug prices, notably for older drugs.
The Trump administration made drug pricing a key priority and although it has forced several big pharma companies to cut prices of insulin drugs, it has not really forced through a real reform.

New Sanofi France head

Olivier Bogillot is the new head of Sanofi France, Les Echos reported on Wednesday (p.31) (APMHE 66410).
He joined Sanofi in 2015 after previously working at the Ile-de-France regional health agency and adviser to the French president's office.
In 2017 he become chief of staff and has headed the board of French pharma body since October 2019 and was elected president of French health industry federation Fefis in November 2019.
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