Press review

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One in six French women stop tamoxifen within a year - France's Le Figaro

PARIS, 26 June (APM) - One in six French women stop taking tamoxifen prescribed by their doctors following breast cancer within a year, reported Le Figaro (p.10) on Tuesday.
In a study including 1,177 women, one in 12 said in a questionnaire that they had stopped their treatment, but the accompanying blood test showed that one in six (16%) were not correctly adhering to treatment. Further research showed that at year five, half of patients were no longer taking tamoxifen.
The issue is that tamoxifen has a real impact - reducing relapses by 50% in less than 10 years. In the above trial, the rate of non-adherents with no relapse or death was 89.5% compared to 95.4% who took treatment correctly.
The paper noted that some patients do not know about the risk of relapse and that drugs can reduce that risk, while others find it is not worth it given the associated adverse events.
Another issue noted in the paper is that while tamoxifen has milder adverse events than chemotherapy - its treatment duration is significantly longer which can make it harder to continue treatment adherence.
The main solution, according to Veronique Brunel - oncologist at the Marseille European hospital - is to talk to patients and listen to them without judging them for stopping treatment.

Sanofi starting to see results from concentrating on R&D

Sanofi is starting to reap the benefits of concentrating on R&D, reported Le Figaro on Wednesday (p.23) (APMHE 67864).
According to head of R&D, John Reed, 75% of the group's drugs in development have the potential to be first, if not the best, in their class. His aim is to reach 80%. At the same time, the aim is for 70% of these drugs to come from in house research, compared to 80% currently.
This is a change from Sanofi's previous reputation of not renewing its portfolio and follows the arrival of new chief executive Paul Hudson last September.
In addition to re-centring the pharma on oncology, rare blood diseases and vaccines and restructuring its relationship with Regeneron, Hudson has also led to a culture change within the company. Beforehand, it took 14 signatures and several months for funding to be unlocked. Now it takes a mere 72 hours.
Le Monde also covered the subject in a brief on Wednesday (p.14).

Sanofi could cut 1,000 posts in France

Sanofi could cut 1,000 positions in France over the next three years - without any job saving plan or early retirement - according to news agency Thomson Reuters, reports Les Echos on Friday (p.18).
The job cuts would be part of new chief executive Paul Hudson's plan to save €2 billion and concentrate on key areas. Jobs are likely to be cut across Europe and affect all the group's subsidiaries, except Sanofi Pasteur which concentrates on vaccines and the U.S.-based Genzyme.
The group's France-based support and R&D functions might also be spared, noted the paper, as they underwent job cuts last year.

Merck KGaA told to pay €3.3 million to Levothyrox victims

Merck KGaA has been ordered by Lyon's court of appeal to pay out €1,000 to each of the 3,329 plaintiffs for lack of information over the change in its Levothyrox (levothyroxine) formula, reports Le Parisien on Friday (p.13).
The court found that the pharma company committed a fault in not properly informing patients about the change in formula in 2017 when it went from an old formula to a new one (APMHE 67904).
Merck said in a statement that it would appeal the decision.

Europe recommends remdesivir approval for Covid-19

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended conditional approval of Gilead's remdesivir for patients with severe coronavirus, report both Le Parisien (p.13) and Le Figaro (p.4) in briefs on Friday.
Although contradictory results have been reported with the drug, the EMA found the benefits of the medicine - initially developed for Ebola - outweigh the risks (APMHE 67900).

France announces health insurance savings for 2021

France has published the annual report from its national health insurance fund for employees (Cnam) detailing the €1.075 billion savings it intends to make in 2021, report Le Figaro (p.22), Les Echos (p.2) and Le Parisien (p.8) on Friday.
Le Figaro noted that the total of intended savings was lower than in 2020 when it was €2.069 billion. It also added that the reduction was down to the unexpected Covid-19 crisis, which has yet to end and already fears of a second wave are growing. As a result, no savings are intended for outpatient clinics.
However, various saving targets for health products have been set, including encouraging the prescription of metformin for diabetes and biosimilars. In total, it is hoped €462 million will be saved on these products.

Servier faces fines and prison sentences in ongoing Mediator trial

Various French papers reported on the ongoing trial surrounding Servier's Mediator (benfluorex) this week, starting with Les Echos on Tuesday (p.20) reporting on the €1 billion plaintiffs are claiming in interests and damages in the civil lawsuit.
The paper noted that over 6,500 people are part of the "historic" case, with one lawyer Jean-Christophe Coubris, representing 2,600 civil parties alone.
Le Parisien (p.10) and L'Humanité (p.13) reported on Wednesday that Paris prosecutors on Tuesday were seeking fines of €8.2 million for the group, three years' imprisonment for former number two Jean-Philippe Seta and fines of €200,000 for France's drugs' regulator and the part it played in the scandal (APMHE 67897).
Le Monde (p.13), Les Echos (p.19), Libération (p.10-11), Le Parisien (p.13) and La Croix (p.10) also covered the story on Thursday.

Sanofi's Dupixent approved in China

Sanofi's Dupixent (dupilumab) has been approved in China reported Les Echos in a brief on Monday (p.19).
It has been approved for moderate to severe atopic dermatitis in adults (APMHE 67843). The country's drugs' regulator (NMPA) said it had identified the medicine as one that China had desperate need of in clinical practice, which accelerated its evaluation and approval procedure (APMHE 67843).
The approval was based on clinical data from LIBERTY AD.

Five big pharma unite to back MyCharlotte start-up

Five big pharma - AstraZeneca, Amgen, Pfizer, Merck Sharp & Dohme and Servier - have given €300,000 to support the start-up MyCharlotte via the Coalition Innovation Santé, reported Le Figaro on Monday (p.19).
The start-up - the only one to receive such a sum from big pharma - supports 300 breast cancer patients without support care due to the coronavirus.
With this funding, the start-up can expand its digital-based support (from fitness classes to wellness classes such as mediation) on a large-scale and offer it to treatment centres which cannot offer this support from a distance.
This type of support has been recognised in France since 2016 - but not all types of it are reimbursed. MyCharlotte is looking to join the reimbursement list, following the addition of the digital tool for lung cancer Moovcare recently.

Bayer to pay $10.9 billion to end Roundup suits

Bayer is to pay up to $10.9 billion to end ongoing and future legal cases claiming its weed killer Roundup (glyphosate) caused cancer, reported Les Echos on Thursday (p.15) (APMHE 67889).
It has also accepted to pay out €354 million to end cases surrounding another weedkiller, dicamba.
Bayer said the agreement will end 75% of lawsuits, involving around 125,000 plaintiffs.
Roundup is a product of Monsanto, which Bayer bought in 2018 for $63 billion.
Le Figaro also covered the story on Thursday (p.19). The story is also covered by Les Echos (p.20), Le Monde (p.17), La Croix (p.20) and L'Humanité (p.12) on Friday.
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