Press review

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Pharma 'in eye of storm' over Covid-19 vaccine development

Country : Spain, Switzerland, U.S., UK

Keywords :
MADRID, 26 June (APM) - Pharma is in the eye of the storm with companies racing to develop a Covid-19 vaccine amid mergers and intense geopolitical pressure, daily newspaper El País reported on Sunday.
The story included a graphic with the headline: 'An essential industry for humankind controlled by a bunch of countries'.
The graphic showed the biggest pharmaceutical companies by sales and the countries where they are based: Roche-Switzerland; AstraZeneca+Gilead-UK+U.S.; Pfizer-U.S.; Merck & Co-U.S.; Novartis-Switzerland; GlaxoSmithKline-UK; Janssen-U.S.; Sanofi-France; AbbVie-U.S.; Bristol-Myers Squibb-U.S. and Amgen-U.S.
Many people are turning their attention now to pharma, one of the industries with the worst public profile for decades and will value companies' commitment to finding a solution to the current health crisis. Pharma executives who rather remain anonymous told El País that these "convulsive" times are the industry's most important moment ever.
On the other hand, the newspaper reported that pharma has had it both ways, because the companies have gathered public and private funds and made substantial earnings out of them.
With high expectations for revenue linked to Covid-19 therapies, even the sales of the controversial hydroxychroloquine could be as high as €2.3 billion, according to Fortune Business Insights, El País noted.
Pharma is using words increasingly frequently such as "solidarity" and "cooperation", "but we do not seem to be living in the best of times". Teresa Rioné, vice president of communications at Barcelona-based Grifols is quoted in the story as saying: "Let us hope that the current spirit of cooperation lives beyond the pandemic."
In an unrelated story on Friday, financial newspaper Expansión carries the headline: 'Novartis head of Spain says Covid-19 has generated solidarity in the industry'.
Miriam Alía, head of vaccines at Medecines Sans Frontieres (MSF) told El País that the system does not respect people. She said that after the outbreak of Ebola in 2012, the vaccine was developed with public money at the Public Health Institute of Canada.
At Phase III, with a 75% probability of success, it was bought by Merck, which completed the development because they saw the opportunity to make money out of future outbreaks (as it happened in 2014 and 2016).
"Vaccines must be priced reasonably and be available to all, particularly the most fragile," she said.

Regulator regrets bringing together small Covid-19 study data

Antonio López Navas, head of infectious diseases at Spanish regulator AEMPS, has admitted that missing the opportunity to bring together data from small Covid-19 studies to obtain more significant evidence has been a mistake, Europa Press agency, medical journals Gaceta Médica and Redacción Médica reported on Monday.
Navas explained that the agency has faced considerable difficulties, with changes to accelerate approval of new clinical trials, which now takes only two days for Covid-19 trials, Europa Press reported. However, the workload has made this goal impossible.
"We have tried but we have not been able to start multicentre studies," he said at a webinar covered by the agency.

Generics' manufacturers key during pandemic

Manufacturers of generic medicines have been key to providing hospitals with the medicines they needed during the worst weeks of the crisis, Europa Press agency and medical journal Acta Sanitaria reported on Thursday. (APMHE 67432)
Europa Press quoted Lucas Sigman, head of Insud Pharma, as saying: "This has taught us the importance of being flexible and quickly adapting to each moment's needs. Now it is time to progressively take our lives and activities back to normal with safety measures."
A number of executives said that telework is encouraged now whenever possible, but that this may change in the future, Acta Sanitaria reported.

UK increases scrutiny of foreign investments

On Thursday, financial newspaper Expansión reported that the UK government will be able to veto acquisitions of UK health and food companies considered "essential".
Such operations will be supervised by the government. According to business Secretary Alok Sharma, this will allow control in emergency situations, such as pandemics, when companies working on a vaccine or manufacturers of protection equipment are the subject of an offer, the newspaper added.

EMA recommends approval of Gilead's remdesivir in Covid-19

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended approval of Gilead's remdesivir in patients with severe Covid-19, it is widely reported on Friday. (APMHE 67900)
Daily newsapers ABC, El País, El Mundo, La Vanguardia, El Español, El Diario, La Razón, financial newspapers El Economista and Cinco Días, Europa Press Agency, medical journals Gaceta Médica, Redacción Médica, Acta Sanitaria and a number of regional newspapers also carry the story. Some report that the EMA has "approved" the drug.

Bayer to settle U.S. cancer lawsuits with €9.8 billion

Bayer has agreed to pay €9.8 billion to settle 100,000 lawsuits linking weedkiller glyphosate to cancer, daily newspapers El Mundo, El País and financial newspaper Cinco Días reported on Thursday. (APMHE 67889)
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