Press review

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The Lancet criticised over hydroxychloroquine study

PARIS, 5 June (APM) - Criticisms of the Lancet's hydroxychloroquine study dominated the French press this week.
The criticism centred around incorrect data coding and the misidentification of an Asian hospital as Australian, reported Le Monde on Tuesday (p.6). The Lancet published a correction, stating that the error did not change the initial conclusions drawn, but this did not stop a wave of criticism.
Numerous French doctors quoted in Le Figaro on Tuesday (p.11) pointed out that the Lancet's study is not the only one to report negative findings for hydroxychloroquine, highlighting French and Chinese studies published in the British Medical Journal.
They also noted that given the vast numbers of patients involved in hydroxychloroquine trials worldwide, with the DISCOVERY trial in France and the World Health Organization (WHO)-led SOLIDARITY if hydroxychloroquine had any benefits, they should have emerged by now.
However, an open letter written last week by about 100 doctors led the Lancet to record doubts about its own study, reported Le Parisien on Thursday (p.12). As a result, hydroxychloroquine trials which had been stopped worldwide, resumed.
On Friday, Le Parisien reports in a brief (p.13) that three of the four doctors behind the Lancet's study have retracted their support stating that they cannot draw conclusions when the reliability of some of the data used in the study is in doubt.
These data came from Surgisphere - a U.S. start-up - which is now alleged to have provided falsified data to several teams, reports Le Figaro on Friday (p. 12). The paper highlights that this revelation could seriously harm the scientific publishing world.
Le Monde (p.10), Les Echos (p.17) and Libération (p.15) also covered the story on Thursday, while Le Monde reports on it (p.8) on Friday.

Mediator trial restarts after two-month hiatus

The trial surrounding Servier's Mediator (benfluorex) has restarted after a hiatus lasting two and a half months due to Covid-19, reported Le Monde (p.13) on Wednesday.
The trial - which started in September 2019 and is set to end before July this year - is now focusing on Servier's lobbying practices - notably regarding the information mission on deaths caused by Mediator that the French Senate launched in 2011.
According to the paper, Servier used various doctors and epidemiologists to rehash an unfavourable study linking Mediator to patient deaths. Moreover, a report on who was responsible for the Mediator scandal was edited to diminish Servier's responsibility and emphasise that of the then French drugs' regulator Afssaps.
Le Monde reported on Thursday (p.14) that as a defendant was stuck in Morocco, the part of the trial analysing influence peddling will be adjourned until 14 September.
Le Parisien (p.15) and L'Humanité (p.8) also covered the story on Wednesday.

Sanofi lays out new oncology strategy

Sanofi has laid out its new oncology strategy to focus on four drugs and four types of cancer, Les Echos reported on Thursday (p.20).
Sanofi is now set to concentrate its efforts on four drugs with different mechanisms of action and four types of cancer: skin, lung, myeloma and breast (APMHE 67608).
Despite recent good news in this sector - with the approval of Sarclisa (isatuximab) for multiple myeloma announced on Tuesday (APMHE 67595) - the company faces a highly competitive market, the economic daily reported. Sarclisa alone faces competition from similar drugs from Janssen, Takeda and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Sanofi also announced changes in upper layers of management, with Thomas Triomphe replacing David Loew at Sanofi Pasteur, Julie Van Ongevalle, Arnaud Robert and Natalie Bickford joining the company's executive committee as they join the company as head of consumer healthcare, chief digital officer and chief people officer respectively, reported Le Figaro on Tuesday (p.26).

Loew leaves Sanofi Pasteur to join Ipsen

Head of Sanofi Pasteur David Loew is leaving to become chief executive at Ipsen, reports Les Echos in a brief on Friday (p.33).
The economic daily notes he worked at Roche for almost 20 years before joining Sanofi in 2013 (APMHE 67546).

Pierre Fabre's Braftovi approved for colorectal cancer

Pierre Fabre's Braftovi (encorafenib) has been approved in Europe for colorectal cancer, La Croix reported in a brief on Thursday (p.8).
The drug's approval is based on the results of a Phase III, in which the drug - in combination with cetuximab - significantly increased overall survival in adult patients (APMHE 67611).

Pharma lobby weakens WHO patent sharing platform

The pharmaceutical lobby has managed to weaken the World Health Organization's attempt to create a patent-sharing platform for potential Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, reported L'Humanité on Tuesday (p.18).
Various pharma chief executives, including Albert Bourla, Pfizer's CEO and AstraZeneca's CEO Pascal Soriot, spoke out against the platform at the global pharma trade body IFPMA press conference last week, saying it threatened intellectual property rights and would discourage innovation (APMHE 67560).
The paper pointed out that only 36 countries had signed up to the platform proposed by Costa Rica at the end of March. Only five European countries have joined, and it has been boycotted by all G7 member countries.
However, the WHO responded, reports L'Humanité in a brief on Friday (p.13) stating that a Covid-19 vaccine must be considered as a public good and available to everyone. La Croix also reports on the WHO response in a brief on Friday (p. 7).

New head for HTA evaluation department

Doctor Lise Alter is to become the new head of the evaluation department for France's health technology assessment body HAS reported Le Figaro in a brief on Wednesday (p.26).
Les Echos also reports on the appointment in a brief Friday (p.33), adding that Alter worked for Lilly France in 2014 (APMHE 67534).
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