Press review

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Spanish government ditches transparency practices amid Covid-19, law experts say it is illegal

Country : Brazil, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, U.S.

Keywords :
MADRID, 17 Apr (APM) - Information about Spain's purchases of health technologies and other supplies is no longer available via the official government website, which had been established to promote transparency.
This is according to daily newspaper El País, which reported on Friday that this has been the case since 14 March, the day the Spanish government implemented emergency measures amid the Covid-19 crisis,
A number of law experts consulted by the newspaper said this is illegal and warned that information about the provider and distributor of 640,000 defective Covid-19 diagnose tests, which had to be sent back, is now not available on the web.
The number of tests carried out in each Spanish autonomous region is not accessible either, even though the government does know the figures.
According to El País, the only way to obtain information about purchases and public contracts is now via direct questions to government representatives at their telematic press conferences. But health minister Salvador Illa has repeatedly avoided questions, the newspaper adds.

Spanish immunologists support immunosuppressants in Covid-19

The Spanish Society of Immunology (SEI) has updated its Covid-19 guidelines supporting the use of immunosuppressant drugs at early stages of the disease, Europa Press agency, medical journal El Médico Interactivo and a number of regional newspapers reported on Thursday and Friday.
El Médico Interactivo quoted a SEI statement as saying: "In some patients, there is a hyperinflammatory response which complicates prognosis." According to the medical society, a number of immunotherapy-based medicines are currently being studied in this context, including inhibitors of the so-called ‘cytokine storm’, the journal added.
Treatment should be adjusted based on close patient monitoring, with special attention to cytokine and cell count, the journal noted.
Europa Press reported that SEI experts have pointed out the need of searching for alternatives to those drugs which have already been used to prevent the ‘cytokine storm’, such as IL-6 and IL-1 inhibitors.
SEI argued that not all tests offer the same results in terms of sensitivity or indication, with some approved as diagnostics and others aimed for follow-ups. The medical society supports the use of ELISA tests and chemiluminescence, the agency reported.
Last week, SEI president Marcos López Hoyos started working with the experts committee that will be periodically reporting to Spanish regulator AEMPS on potential treatments for the new coronavirus.

Sanofi to donate 100 million doses of hydroxychloroquine

French pharma Sanofi will donate 100 million doses of its hydroxychloroquine-based drug Plaquenil to a total of 50 countries, including Spain, financial newspaper Expansión, medical journal Gaceta Médica and EFE agency reported on Saturday.
The firm has doubled the production of this drug as demand surged in the Covid-19 pandemic. The manufacturing capacity is expected to quadruple before summer, the financial noted. (APMHE 66920)
The World Health Organisation has included hydroxychloroquine in the list of potential Covid-19 treatments, within the priority experimental therapies, Expansión reported.
However, the company cautioned that supplies for patients who need their drug in its already approved indications will be priority. This includes patients with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and malaria, the financial added.
The story included a reference to Sanofi’s experimental vaccine. On Wednesday, daily newspaper La Vanguardia and financial El Economista reported that the firm had joined forces with GlaxoSmithKline in a collaboration to find a vaccine for Covid-19.
On Tuesday, daily newspaper ABC reported that trials of chloroquine in Brazil and Portugal had been halted due to serious side effects, with particular impact on the heart. The American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and the Heart Rhythm Society have warned about the risk of using high doses of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine in Covid-19 patients. In Sweden, a recommendation to avoid these drugs has been issued, the newspaper said.

Covid-19 PrEP trial in Barcelona

Researchers from Catalonia are assessing the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in Covid-19, daily newspaper ABC reports on Friday.
Results of the study, led by renown specialists Oriol Mitjá and Bonaventura Clotet, are expected in the next few days, most likely next week, the newspaper says.
Initially, the trial was designed to study the use of darunavir and hydroxychloroquine. However, the first drug has been excluded from the trial due to lack of efficacy.
In an unrelated Tuesday story, daily newspaper El País referred to Mitjá as the only science advisor of the separatist government of Catalonia. He got notorious via social media when, one week before the Spanish government took any action, he urged healthcare authorities to lock down the country, El País noted.

AstraZeneca starts Calquence trial in Covid-19

On Tuesday, financial newspaper Cinco Días reported that AstraZeneca has started a trial to test the safety and efficacy of its blood cancer drug Calquence (acalabrutinib) in severe cases of Covid-19.
The drug is already approved for the treatment of adults with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in a number of countries, including the U.S.
The aim of the trial is to assess the drug’s efficacy to reduce mortality and the need of machine-assisted breathing in infected patients, Cinco Días added.

Closer to a cure for heart disease

On Tuesday, daily newspaper ABC carried a story about an experimental gene therapy to promote cell regeneration in damaged heart tissue with the headline: "Closer to the first curative treatment for heart disease."
A team of researchers at the University of Cambridge found that a gene linked to cancer can boost cardiac cell regrowth in the hearts of mice.
Usually, adult heart cells cannot regenerate after damage has occurred. That is why the researchers have called the finding "really exciting". Available treatments can slow disease progression, but have failed to heal the damaged organ, ABC noted.
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