BERLIN, 5 June (APM) - Germany is well positioned in worldwide vaccine patent ranking, according to a report from the Bertelsmann Foundation, Handelsblatt said on Thursday (p15).
Germany is ranked second in 2019 with 10% of all world-class patents in this field compared to 2% in 2000. This is mainly due to German biotech CureVac.
Europe is highly dynamic in health technology with 24% of patents, has caught up with the U.S. (40%) and is ahead of Eastern Asia (16%), a rarity compared with other industrial fields covered in the report. China counts for 7%, a similar level to Germany and the UK.
However, the increase in Chinese innovative strength is not due to Chinese companies but to local R&D activities of global pharma companies such as Roche, Bristol-Myers Squibb or Novartis.
EU vaccine alliance being developed
Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands are setting up an EU vaccine alliance to coordinate government research funds and purchase guarantees with several pharma companies, Handelsblatt reports on Friday (p10-11, 16) (APMHE 67620
Health Ministers from the four countries, apparently led by Germany's Jens Spahn, wrote a letter to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to present the initiative aiming at "achieving the fastest and best possible result in negotiations with key players in the pharmaceutical industry" and ensure "sufficient supplies of vaccines for the EU and beyond".
According to Handelsblatt, they are already in talks with several pharma companies developing vaccines against Covid-19, including AstraZeneca. This could be extended to non-EU countries such as the UK, Norway, Singapore and Japan.
The EU fund, called Emergency Support Instrument, worth €2.4 billion, could be used to increase vaccine production capacity in Europe and offer liability insurance to pharmaceutical companies, Handelsblatt says, quoting Thomson Reuters.
Europe must take part in the Covid-19 vaccine race as the U.S. aggressive strategy to secure its domestic own supply leaves them no choice, Handelsblatt reports. However, the EU must not copy Trump's methods and behave in a fair way, in particular to less developed countries, it adds.
Gavi Global Vaccine Summit raises €7.8 billion for Covid-19 vaccine distribution
The Gavi Global Vaccine Summit raised €7.8 billion to immunise children in developing countries and to support global distribution of vaccines against Covid-19, €1.8 billion of which was contributed by the UK, FAZ says on Friday (p18) (APMHE 67639
Even a slightly smaller amount of $7 billion could finance vaccines for 300 million children and prevent eight million deaths. A certain amount will be used to buy Covid-19 vaccines, once these are approved and distribute them in low-income countries, according to the Gates Foundation.
Sanofi loses head of vaccine business
Sanofi has lost the head of its vaccine business Sanofi Pasteur, David Loew, who is leaving after four years in the post to become chief executive of Ipsen, FAZ reported on Tuesday (p24) (APMHE 67546
Sanofi has chosen Thomas Triomphe to succeed Loew.
Using the Corona crisis to modernise German health system
The Covid-19 crisis has shown how flexible and innovative the German healthcare system can be and this should be used to modernise it, said Handelsblatt on Thursday (p26).
As patients are willing to make changes and politicians seem to be too, it is time for professional groups who have reservations to move, it said in an editorial.
Wider use of online consultation and discussion on the benefits and risks of a tracking app to contain infections show a change in attitudes towards the use of digital solutions. The challenge now is to use this momentum to make new technologies more widely available.
It is time to have a fundamental discussion about which healthcare system Germany wants and can afford in terms of inpatient and outpatient care, according to patients' needs.
For the hospital sector, economists and physicians' association Marburger Bund say that many small hospitals without a specialised profile should shut down, but Health Minister Spahn would rather add €10 to €15 billion of public support to the healthcare system than starting reforms now, health economist Jürgen Wasem told Wirtschaftswoche (WiWo) on Friday (p16-21).
German pharmacists face challenge from mail-order suppliers
Pharmacists need a stabilised legal framework to contain the growing business of mail order suppliers, says Handelsblatt on Friday (p63).
"Pharmacies have been able to provide reliable care for their patients even during the coronavirus crisis. But if this is to remain so, they urgently need a regulatory perspective for the next few years," warned head of pharmacist association ABDA Friedemann Schmidt
Pharmacists are annoyed by mail-order pharmacies from other EU countries which are allowed to offer discounts to their customers, whereas German pharmacies are subject to fixed prices.
Schmidt is calling for a ban on discounts, even on the entire mail-order business. However, it does not look as if he can achieve this before the end of his term of office at the end of the year.
Vaccine development for Covid-19 could take five years
Vaccine development for Covid-19 could take five years, as long as it took for Merck & Co's Ebola vaccine Ervebo to be approved in November 2019 (APMHE 65079
), WiWo reports on Friday (p56-57).
Researchers might have to wait for a second outbreak of Covid-19 to conduct clinical studies, as was the case for Ebola vaccine candidates. A positive effect of Merck & Co and Janssen's experience with Ebola vaccines is the close contact to virologists, WiWo said.
Germany and France want to reform WHO
Germany's Health Minister Jens Spahn has announced that Germany and France will propose a set of measures to reform the World Health Organization (WHO) after the U.S. have quit, SZ said on Tuesday (p7).
The WHO reform will be a priority for Germany's presidency of the EU Council, which will start on 1 July, as the WHO should make sure Covid-19 vaccines are distributed fairly around the world once vaccines will be available, SZ said.
Gates Foundation criticised for supporting pharma industry
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is being criticised by London public health professor David McCoy for "privatising the world's salvation" and supporting "not only poor children in Africa but also pharma companies that already make good money", SZ reported on Saturday (p21).
Also, the foundation's support for pharma companies is "irritating", as Gates has invested in some pharma companies.
Other critics say the foundation often puts pressure on collaborators to reach quick success and lobbies for its core focus of human development: it fosters "an entrepreneur's development policy who is pursuing optimal results and win-win situations through his investments", SZ said.
Too much medical research data published on pre-print repositories
Too much medical research data are being published on pre-print repositories since the Covid-19 outbreak, Klaus Lieb, chair transparency and independence of the drug commission of the German medical association (AkdÄ), FAZ reported on Wednesday (p29-30).
This is an issue, as review articles treat these as regular scientific sources although not peer-reviewed. Lieb called for compulsory registration of all medical studies, as is the case for clinical drug testing. This would guarantee that data are not analysed in a different way than planned.
Bayer in appeal in glyphosate case
Bayer is aiming at convincing the Californian Court of Appeal to set aside the first of its three condemnations on weedkiller glyphosate causing cancer or to order a new trial, Handelsblatt said on Thursday (p22).
At a hearing on Tuesday, the three judges seemed reluctant to overrule the jury's August 2018 verdict in the Dewayne Johnson case, that condemned Bayer's Monsanto to pay $289 million damages, later reduced to $79 million. However, one of them at least questioned whether the amount of damages in the Johnson case was justified.
The court now has 90 days to reach a majority decision.
On Thursday, a court in San Francisco, California, reversed the approval of Bayer and BASF's dicamba-based weedkillers due to health concerns, which is another setback for Bayer, FAZ says on Friday (p19).