Press review

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GSK urges UK government to agree mutual recognition agreement with EU

Country : Australia, China, Europe, Germany, India, Japan, U.S., UK

Keywords :
LONDON, 26 June (APM) - GlaxoSmithKline has urged the UK government to strike a mutual recognition agreement with the European Union, citing a report that suggests it will reduce the loss of exports for the UK's drugs industry by about €2 billion a year, The Times reported on Tuesday.
The paper reported GSK as saying on Monday that preliminary findings from a report by the trade body EFPIA had found that drug exports are expected to fall by 22.5% if there is a no-deal Brexit, but only by 12.6% under a free trade agreement including mutual recognition.
The cost estimates of an agreement were outlined by Louise Gill, head of policy at GSK, to a parliamentary House of Lords sub-committee examining the future of UK and EU trade after Brexit.
Gill said the company's aim is to ensure the ease of movement of goods across borders and to ensure that patients and consumers have "swift access" to its products. The UK imports 37 million medicine packs from the EU each month, while the UK exports 45 million the other way, according to EFPIA, said The Times.

Warning against EU protectionism

The Financial Times on Monday reported that German pharma group Stada has attacked "protectionist" moves by the EU to shift drug production to Europe from Asia, pledging that it will continue to source and sell globally.
Stada's chief executive Peter Goldschmidt told the FT: "There is a big debate about bringing production back to Europe. This discussion is driven by protectionism. It is not a solution."
The paper said the EU is drawing up plans to increase domestic medicine production after the Covid-19 pandemic revealed its reliance on imports. India and China provide 90% of the underlying active ingredients for EU drugmakers, according to the industry, the FT added.
Goldschmidt added: "We have a good supply in all markets. What is important is supply sustainability."

Second human trial of Covid-19 vaccine begins in UK

Volunteers have begun receiving doses of a potential Covid-19 vaccine being developed by researchers at Imperial College London, the second human trial of a vaccine in people in the UK, The Independent reported on Thursday.
The first participant is reported to be in good health with no safety concerns after being injected on 19 June. A second booster dose will be administered within four weeks. About 300 volunteers are taking part in the study.
Researchers at the University of Oxford began testing their vaccine candidate on people in April and have enrolled more than 1,000 volunteers, The Independent added.

GSK vaccine trial starts in Australia

The Times on Saturday said a coronavirus vaccine being developed in partnership with GSK has begun human clinical trials in Australia.
The company is providing its adjuvant technology as part of a collaboration with China's Clover Biopharmaceuticals.

Dexamethasone profiled

The Telegraph on Monday carried a lengthy feature into dexamethasone, which it described as a "ground-breaking" drug which reduces a person's risk of death from Covid-19.
It has been given to patients on the UK's National Health Service following successful trials in the country (APMHE 67785).
Dexamethasone, a widely-used steroid which works to reduce inflammation, has been hailed by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the "biggest breakthrough yet" in Covid-19 treatment.
The drug costs just £5 for a course of treatment and is expected to have a major impact on the coronavirus pandemic in the UK and abroad, the paper said.
The Times on Tuesday carried a similarly lengthy feature into the steroid, describing it as a "game changer in treating coronavirus".

U.S. hospital purchases of dexamethasone soar

On the same theme, the FT on Thursday reported that U.S. hospitals have dramatically increased their purchases of dexamethasone in the last week after it was found to significantly cut the likelihood of Covid-19 patients dying. 
It said hospitals have increased their orders for the drug by 610%, according to Vizient, a healthcare services company that works with half of U.S. hospitals. Suppliers were unable to keep up with demand, filling only 54% of the orders, the company said.
The paper quoted Dan Kistner, group senior vice-president, at Vizient, as saying that before last week, U.S. hospitals had not been treating Covid-19 patients with the drug, which is usually prescribed for skin disease, arthritis and bowel disorders and almost all orders were being filled.

Male Covid-19 survivors asked to give plasma for trials

The Guardian on Tuesday reported that men who have recovered from Covid-19 are being asked to donate plasma to be used to treat ill patients in trials because they have higher levels of virus-fighting antibodies in their blood than women.
It said convalescent plasma is being trialled around the world as a possible treatment for the disease. It contains antibodies generated by the immune systems of people who have fought off the virus, the paper added.

Boehringer sells stake in Hikma

Boehringer Ingelheim's sale of its 16.4% stake in Hikma Pharmaceuticals was covered in The Times on Tuesday.
It said the transaction comes after a strong year for Hikma, whose shares are up almost 25%, boosted by the pandemic. The German group's stake in Hikma is valued at almost £1 billion, the paper added (APMHE 67868).

Chugai soars to become Japan's fifth most valuable company

The FT on Wednesday looked at Roche's relationship with Chugai 18 years after the Swiss pharma giant bought a controlling stake in the Japanese firm for $1.4 billion, promising "arm's length management". 
The paper said that after nearly two decades later, the partnership has not only survived but has prospered during the coronavirus crisis, with the two companies now trialling their rheumatoid arthritis drug Actemra as a potential treatment for people who are critically ill with Covid-19.
"With investors pinning their hopes on the drug, Chugai passed a new milestone this week, replacing Sony as Japan's fifth most valuable company as its shares hit another all-time record," said the paper. "The stock has risen more than 70% since the start of the year, adding $40 billion to its market capitalisation. Roche has added nearly $30 billion."

Bayer's Roundup deal

The FT on Wednesday covered Bayer's agreement that it will pay up to $10.9 billion to settle a wave of lawsuits over the potential carcinogenic effects of its weedkiller Roundup, legal actions that have plagued the company since its takeover of U.S. agrichemical rival Monsanto two years ago (APMHE 67889).
The German giant had been facing approximately 125,000 claims in the U.S. after early cases in California found in favour of the plaintiffs, the paper said.

Germany 'flexes financial muscle'

The FT on Thursday examined Germany's move to protect what it considers to be key companies from overseas takeovers.
The paper quoted economics minister Peter Altmaier who said last week that Germany "does not sell its silverware" during an announcement that the government would plough more than €300 million into CureVac, a small biotech company that has yet to produce a marketable product but is about to proceed to clinical trials of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Angela Merkel's administration has taken a 23% stake in the privately owned company — on the same day it emerged CureVac was planning an initial public offering in New York.
"Germany, it seemed, was very much in the business of protecting potential national champions from the grasp of Washington, not just Beijing," the FT said.
CureVac and and another German biotech BioNTech are seen to be at the forefront of developing a Covid-19 vaccine that makes use of messenger RNA, which could lead to a viable product sooner than traditional methods.

New cancer drug 'stops tumours in untreatable patients'

The Times on Tuesday reported on trials of cancer drug berzosertib that show the drug apparently stopped or even reversed the growth of tumours in patients who had failed to respond to conventional treatment.
The drug is designed to interfere with a particular DNA repair mechanism used by cancer, making tumours especially vulnerable to chemotherapy, meaning in theory it could be used on a wide range of cancers.
Although only 40 patients were involved and larger studies are needed, doctors said the findings provided early evidence that the approach could become a "potent cancer treatment", the paper said.
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