Press review

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Mid-size pharma in Germany lack masks for their lab staff

Country : China, Europe, Germany, India, Switzerland, U.S.

Keywords :
BERLIN, 17 Apr (APM) - German mid-size pharma companies lack masks and other protective equipment for their laboratory staff, Die Welt reported on Thursday (p15).
As the demand for masks and protective gear has dramatically increased in hospitals and the public, it has become more difficult and more expensive for small and mid-sized pharma companies to buy these products that are essential for their usual manufacturing in sterile units.
The production will be at risk if the situation does not change, companies Henning Arzneimittel and Dermapharm and pharma lobby BPI told Die Welt.
If it becomes compulsory for the population to wear masks on public transport and when shopping, then the situation would worsen. Companies called on regional governments to consider pharma companies' needs when they are buying and distributing masks.
Bavaria's pharmacists also have protested against not being mentioned in the regional governments' plans for protective gear supply, Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reported on Thursday (p46).

Two biotechs develop antibody spray against Covid-19

Two biotechs, Germany's Ethris und Switzerland's Neurimmune, are developing a spray against Covid-19, Handelsblatt said on Thursday (p18).
They plan to develop an immunotherapy based on mRNA-encoded, neutralising antibodies administered by inhalation to bring the compound into the lungs of severely affected patients.
Neurimmune, which has expertise in developing human antibodies, is identifying human anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies from the immune cells of recovered Covid-19 patients, while Ethris conntributes its expertise in mRNA technology to the partnership.
The companies plan to identify the blueprint for a highly effective antibody within the next few months and start first clinical trials with an aerosol against Covid-19 in the fourth quarter.

Shortages in anaesthetic drugs

German hospitals have reported shortages of anaesthetic drugs used in artificially ventilated Covid-19 patients, particularly sedative drugs propofol, midazolam and isoflurane and pain relief sufentanil, Der Spiegel said on Saturday (p58).
Baxter reported a supply shortages of propofol and isoflurane.
However, German drug regulator BfArM sees "partially limited availability" as well as delays in delivery, but no bottleneck.

Stada manufactured over 63 million drug packages

Stada manufactured more than 63 million drug packages in March - up 10% compared to its usual manufacturing in that month, a record in the company's 125-year history, due to the increase in demand amidst the corona virus crisis, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reported on Tuesday (p38).
Stada has stocked up on starting materials and manufactured drugs. Manufacturing has increased of anti-infective drugs, immunostimulants or painkillers related to the outbreak, but also of essential drugs, such as cancer therapies, Stada said.

Monopoly regulations eased for cooperation in pharma

EU monopoly regulations have been already changed to ease cooperation between pharma companies in the coronavirus crisis, Handelsblatt said on Wednesday (p10).
The European Commission has published temporary rules through a 'Comfort Letter' sent to the European generic manufacturers trade body Medicines for Europe (APMHE 66925) - the first of its kind for an industry sector.
Many industries, including the pharmaceutical and medical devices industry, are approaching the monopoly authorities or are considering such informal consultations, monopoly lawyer at the law firm Hogan Lovells Christian Ritz told Handelsblatt.
A typical case would relate to suppliers from China or India failing to deliver agreed quantities or European suppliers facing insolvency. "Affected customers could then discuss with the authorities whether they should rescue suppliers together or whether they should agree to joint rescue efforts or to secure supply chains," Ritz said.
Under the monopoly regulations, an agreement among companies on how to deal with such situations, such as deferring claims or capacity management, is forbidden.

Green party calls for more public funding for Covid-19 drug and vaccine research

Opposition party The Greens has asked the Research Ministry to provide for more public funding to find a cure or vaccine for Covid-19, as economic and social restrictions could only be lifted after one of the two is found, FAZ reported on Saturday (p4).
The Research Ministry should increase its support of the Co­ali­ti­on for Epi­de­mic Pre­pa­red­ness In­no­va­tions (CEPI) to €320 million, as CEPI has estimated that vaccine development for Covid-19 would cost €1.8 billion, according to a Greens' position paper, FAZ said.

Evidence for use of chloroquine in Covid-19 not sufficient

The evidence available for the use of chloroquine or hydrochloroquine in Covid-19 patients is insufficient, as it comes mostly from in-vitro and animal testing, FAZ reported on Sunday (p60).
Pneumologist Susanne Herold told FAZ that the two compounds have shown promise against other viruses, such as dengue or chikungunya, but could not show efficacy to prevent or treat the diseases in humans, as the dose needed would be too high.

Fight over Covid-19 drug stocks

International solidarity could diminish as soon as a drug shows efficacy in Covid-19 and countries could fight over companies' drug stocks and solidarity might not be as important as the WHO clincal trial named Solidarity might suggest, SZ reported on Wednesday (p13).
Patick Durisch, health politics expert at non-government organisation Public Eye, warned about a probable distribution battle over Covid-19 therapies and criticised U.S. biotech Gilead for requesting orphan designation for its anti-infective candidate remdisivir.
Durisch welcomed Gates and Wellcome foundations' initiative joined by 15 pharma companies to make available their compound libraries (APMHE 66701), but said that it would be more helpful if the companies would also drop their patents for these compounds, SZ said.

Germany not dependent on Asian suppliers for drugs

Germany's drug exports totalled €37 billion in 2019 and imported only €400 million worth of drugs, or 0.8% of its drug supply, from China or India, which shows that Germany does not depend on Asian countries for drugs, according to private economy research institute ifo, FAZ (p15) and SZ (p19) report on Friday.
Germany should start stockpiling drugs to prevent shortages and make sure that supply contracts are signed with multiple international suppliers, which could lead to a more stable supply chain than national manufacturing alone, FAZ said.

Former GSK CEO Andrew Witty to help lead WHO Covid-19 vaccine research

Andrew Witty, former chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline, has been recruited by the World Health Organization (WHO) to co-lead its efforts to help develop a Covid-19 vaccine, FAZ reports on Friday (p20) (APMHE 66656).
FAZ says that appointing Witty could be seen as an attempt to balance out China's influence in the organisation, as China voted for its director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Last week, U.S. President Trump harshly criticised Ghebreyesus for lauding China's "openness" and cut U.S. WHO funding. Witty, on the other hand, is an adviser to the Gates foundation, which also "remits large amounts to the WHO", FAZ added.
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