FLORENCE, 24 July (APM) - Italy is devising a €20 billion health programme, including making the country attractive to international pharma investment, the health minister said in an interview reported by Il Sole 24 Ore published on Thursday.
Roberto Speranza made his comments on a programme on Radio 24, a broadcaster which is part of the same media group as the paper. "I am working on an extensive plan," he said. "I think we will need €20 billion or more if we really want a Copernican revolution."
The minister identified digital healthcare, an area where Italy lags other countries, as one of the biggest priorities for investment. He also highlighted local healthcare and hospital facilities as being an important part of a 'territorial' strategy.
The drugs industry is seen as a strategic priority. Speranza said: "Then there is the very important matter of our capacity as a country to attract the huge investments that are made globally by the pharmaceutical industry."
Asked where the resources for Italy's investment will come from, Speranza replied: "ESM (European Stability Mechanism), the Recovery Fund or resources from our own ordinary (government bond) auctions are (all) fine with me. What is important is that we ensure that the resources are available because financing the national health service must be the first priority."
Speranza warned that there may be a second wave of the coronavirus in Italy. "It happened in previous epidemics. It is not certain but we must consider it as a possibility and we must be prepared," he said. "Italy is stronger today than it was in early February. Determination and speed of action are the essential factors."
Piedmont starts own production of medicinal cannabis after shortages
Peidmont has started producing its own medicinal cannabis after patients were forced to stop treatment as a result of shortages, La Repubblica reported on Wednesday.
It follows a similar situation in Lombardy where Milan's city authority requested permission from the health ministry to produce the active ingredient of cannabis for therapeutic purposes, the paper said.
According to La Repubblica, of the three drugs on the market, only one, Pedanios, is still available. Fm2, which is produced by a Military pharmaceutical facility in Italy was supposed to double its output before the Covid-19 emergency but has now run short too. Supplies of Bedrocan have been blocked at customs since January, the paper said.
Piedmont's health assessor, Luigi Icardi, has introduced a regional law authorising treatments based on cannabis and its derivatives. "At the moment we are unable to guarantee the required supply of cannabis drugs," he said.
The law provides for the launch of experimental projects at a local level for the production of hemp. It is a step back into the past, the paper said. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Italy cultivated almost 100 thousand hectares of industrial hemp and was the second largest producer in the world.
Fenofibrate shown to reduce severity of Covid-19
Fenofibtrate has been shown to reduce the severity of Covid-19 symptoms, according to Wednesday's Il Messaggero.
A team of scientists from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Mount Sinai Medical Centre in New York has found that the cholesterol drug could lower the Covid-19 threat to that of a common cold. It is thought fenofibrate can stop Sars-CoV-2 from reproducing and, in some cases, even make it disappear.
The study, which was published in Cell Press Sneak Peak shows it is possible to take control of the virus and "malnourish" it, the paper said. In this way it is deprived of the resources it needs to survive.
The medical team examined eight previously approved drugs that could interfere with the virus' ability to reproduce. Fenofibrate is said to cause the cells to start burning fat, which can make the virus disappear almost completely in just five days of treatment, Il Messaggero reported.
Kedrion partners Columbia University in immonoglobulin R&D
Kedrion Biopharma has joined forces with the Columbia University Irving Medical Center for development and testing of a new immunoglobulin (IgG) therapy as a part of its partnership with Israel's Kamada, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Monday.
Under the agreement, Kedrion will supply Columbia with Covid-19 convalescent patients' plasma intended for use in the production of IgG therapy.
The first phase of evaluation of the neutralising effect present in hyperimmune immunoglobulins should be completed by early August. Human clinical trials can only begin once approval has been obtained from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the paper noted.
Paolo Marcucci, Kedrion's CEO suggested the new partnership will accelerate the development of an anti-Covid IgG therapy. He added that the project that could help patients and protect frontline healthcare workers at Columbia.