Press review


German wholesalers and pharmacists come together to offer digital services

Country : Austria, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Italy, Netherlands, U.S., UK

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BERLIN, 10 July (APM) - German wholesalers and pharmacists are setting up a platform providing digital services through a web portal and an app to be ready before e-commerce giants such as Amazon or Alibaba enter the market, Handelsblatt reported on Thursday (p20-21).
Germany's largest pharmaceutical wholesaler Phoenix has allied with its competitor Pro AvO, which includes wholesalers Gehe and Sanacorp, the pharmacy-owned merchandise management Noventi, warehousing specialist Rosa and publishing house Wort und Bild Verlag.
"For the first time, we want to network as many healthcare service providers as possible via an open platform and bundle them under one website, thus creating real added value for patients and users," said Phoenix Germany chief executive Marcus Freitag.
It could combine existing systems on one platform to find a teleconsultation, book an appointment, order a prescription drug, find a pharmacy and manage the invoicing between payers and healthcare professionals. The platform would remain free of charge for consumers. How healthcare providers would contribute remains open, either via transaction fees or a monthly subscription.
"Our goal is to be able to connect the majority of pharmacies, doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals in Germany to our platform within a year," Freitag said.

Germany hit hard by Sanofi job cuts

Germany will be disproportionately affected by Sanofi's global job cutting plan, FAZ reported on Saturday (p49). (APMHE 68020)
Sanofi plans to shed 800 jobs in Germany, most of which are at its Frankfurt-Höchst site, while "only 550" positions are to go in France. Sanofi has 9,000 employees in Germany, 7,200 of whom are in Frankfurt, while the number of employees in France is three times higher.
About 20% of jobs in drug R&D and support functions, such as laboratory staff, and 6.5% in manufacturing in Germany could be affected.
Sanofi's sites in Germany are mainly focused on diabetes, an area which Sanofi has decided to cut down under its new strategy to focus on oncology and vaccines.

National deals on Covid-19 vaccines

The €550 million deal on Covid-19 vaccines that the UK is about to sign with Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline shows that there is a trend towards national deals, Handelsblatt said on Tuesday (p20). (APMHE 68032)
The agreement with Sanofi and GSK would be "further evidence of the intensive efforts of government agencies to secure early supplies of vaccines - even though it is still completely unclear whether and which vaccines are effective against the coronavirus", Handelsblatt said.
The U.S. government has also already secured access to hundreds of millions of vaccine units in several deals - among others with Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Oxford University/AstraZeneca (APMHE 67629).
Oxford University/AstraZeneca have also signed a 400 million units contract with Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands (APMHE 67746) and 30 million doses with the UK (APMHE 67371).
In addition to that, the U.S. government has awarded Novavax $1.6 billion to cover testing, commercialisation and manufacturing of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate in the U.S., Handelsblatt on Thursday (p23) (APMHE 68060).
This is part of the U.S. 'Operation Warp Speed' programme that has finalised several such deals with vaccine developers, although it is not yet clear whether and which vaccines are really safe and effective, Handelsblatt said.
German biotech CureVac also received a loan of €75 million from the European Investment Bank (EIB) for the development and large-scale production of vaccines, including its vaccine candidate against Covid-19.

Gilead's Covid-19 drug Veklury approved in EU

Gilead's antiviral Veklury (remdesivir) was approved in the EU last week to treat severe cases of Covid-19 after a review period of fewer than four weeks, but the drug will not be available in Europe before September, as the U.S. has bought Gilead's Veklury stocks, FAZ reported on Saturday (p1) (APMHE 68030).
EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said the approval was "an important step in the battle against the virus".
Member of the European Parliament and health politician Peter Liese said that voluntary or compulsory licences for generic remdesivir-based drugs or trade sanctions against the U.S. could be possibilities to guarantee EU access to the drug, FAZ said.

Mylan launches remdesivir-based Desrem for Covid-19 in India

Generic drug manufacturer Mylan has launched Desrem (remdesivir) for severe cases of Covid-19 in India for €57.23 (4,800 rupees) for 100 mg, compared to €462.12 in the U.S., FAZ reported on Tuesday (p20).
India's Health Ministry has limited treatment cycles to five days and a total remdesivir dose of 600 mg. India is ranked third in the number of Covid-19 infections, with 700,000 confirmed cases.
Gilead has concluded voluntary licensing agreements with nine generics manufacturers in India, Pakistan and Egypt to market remdesivir-based drugs in 127 countries (APMHE 67863): Cipla, Dr Reddy's Laboratories, Eva Pharma, Ferozsons Laboratories, Hetero Labs, Jubilant Life Sciences, Mylan, Syngene and Zydus Cadila Healthcare.
Cipla will market its Cipre­ma in India at a price lower than 5,000 rupees and Hetero Labs its Coviflor at 5,400 rupees, FAZ said.

Pharma industry sets up €1 billion fund to develop four new antibiotics by 2030

International pharma lobby IFPMA has announced plans to set up a €1 billion fund to tackle antimicrobial resistance and to develop four new antibiotics until 2030 by investing in biotechs working in this area, Handelsblatt (p20) and FAZ (p18) report on Friday (APMHE 68110).
The project is supported by 20 of the biggest global pharma companies, including the German companies Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim and Merck KGaA, the EU investment bank EIB and several foundations.
In addition to funding, biotechs will be provided with know-how on clinical research, manufacturing, approval procedures and marketing by bigger companies. The project was set up to foster the development of antibiotics under "unattractive market conditions", Handelsblatt said.
In an interview with Handelsblatt on Friday (p21), Boehringer chief executive Hubertus von Baumbach explained why the company is participating, although it withdrew from virology research a few years ago.
This investment will enable new drugs to be found more quickly - something from which corona patients could potentially also benefit as "many viral infections are also associated with bacterial infections".

PharmaSGP wants to 'make a difference' in rare diseases

Munich-based pharmaceutical company PharmaSGP, specialising in prescription-free drugs, is currently investigating different product candidates in the field of rare diseases, said Handelsblatt on Tuesday (p44).
Chief executive Clemens Fischer told Handelsblatt he wants to invest some of the €127 million raised in its June initial public offering in drugs for rare diseases.
So far, PharmaSGP, which generated €63 million annual sales, has specialised in non-prescription drugs, including painkillers Rubaxx and Restaxil. The company bought up old approvals and registrations, developed them further and marketed them with considerable advertising.
Futrue Holding, to which PharmaSGP belongs, also includes Vertanical which has started selling cannabis extracts for medical use in seriously ill patients in September 2019. Fischer also wants to develop a new class of cannabis-based painkillers.

Packaging specialist Vetter expands in Austria

German family-owned company Vetter, that produces aseptically pre-filled syringe systems, cartridges and vials for the pharma industry, has bought an existing facility in Rankweil, Austria, Handelsblatt said on Thursday (p45)
Vetter's goal is to establish an independent and flexible clinical development site in Rankweil, modelled on its existing production site in the U.S. near Chicago.
The production facility is scheduled to go into operation in the second half of 2021. Vetter invested "a two-digit million euro amount" to buy the Rankweil site, owned by bankrupt biopharmaceutical producer Impletio.

Bayer withdraws innovative part of its glyphosate settlement to avoid rejection

Bayer has withdrawn the most innovative part of its $10.9 billion glyphosate settlement to avoid rejection by the U.S. Judge overseeing the class action lawsuit, reported Handelsblatt (p25) FAZ (p23), SZ (p17) on Wednesday and Handelsblatt (p25) and FAZ (p20) Thursday (p25). (APMHE 68089)
On Tuesday, Bayer's shares fell more than 6% after Judge Vincent Chhabria said he was inclined to oppose the $1.25 billion settlement proposed by Bayer to deal with future claims on its weed killer glyphosate.
It included the establishment of an independent scientific panel, appointed by both the company and the plaintiff and approved by the court, in charge of determining whether glyphosate can cause non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Chhabria, who should approve the entire settlement and also appoint the members of the expert panel, questioned several aspects of the proposed settlement, including the idea of delegating the decision from judges and juries to a panel of scientists.
On Wednesday, Bayer announced the withdrawal of this part of its proposal to give the parties more time to address questions.



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