Press review

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German Covid-19 vaccine developper CureVac eyes $245 million U.S. IPO

BERLIN, 14 Aug (APM) - German biotech CureVac, developing a mRNA-based vaccine against Covid-19, aims to raise up to $245 million in an initial public offering (IPO) on the U.S. Nasdaq, planned to start on Friday.
The news was reported by Handelsblatt (p37), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) (p21, 22) and Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) (p20) on Tuesday.
In parallel, majority shareholder Dietmar Hopp has agreed to acquire additional shares for €100 million
It would value the biotech at around €2.3 billion ($2.7 billion) - way below its competitor in mRNA vaccine, Germany's BioNTech at $17.5 billion and U.S. Moderna at around $28 billion, said Handelsblatt on Wednesday (p5).
CureVac plans to offer a total of up to 15.33 million new shares, adding they would likely be priced at between $14.00 and $16.00 a piece.
Curevac had recently raised $640 million in a private financing round, of which the largest part (€300 million) came from the German government (APMHE 67759), €150 million from GlaxoSmithkline (APMHE 68229) and $126 million from Qatar and other investors.
The proceeds from will help fund the development of its mRNA-based vaccine, which it plans to bring to market by mid 2021, the ramp-up of manufacturing capabilities, its oncology drug development and the development of a rabies vaccine.

Russia announces new ‘Sputnik moment’ in worldwide Covid-19 vaccine race

Russian president Vladimir Putin was proud to announce in person on Tuesday the first worldwide approval of a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Institute and financed the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), reported Handelsblatt (p1, 4-5), FAZ (p1, 3) on Wednesday. (APMHE 68510)
Putin said one of his daughters had taken it as a volunteer and felt good afterwards.
This is a new "Sputnik moment" for the world, RDIF's chief executive Kirill Dmitriev said, making a parallel with the launch of the world's first satellite by the Soviet Union in 1957 which marked its advance over the U.S. in the Cold War-era space race. The adenoviral vaccine is called Sputnik V and is promoted in a multi-lingual website.
Der Spiegel (p86-87) on Saturday said that the approval would occur "within the next days". Dmitriev made pre-announcement in an interview published on Saturday in FAZ (p18) and Die Welt (p2-3) on Sunday. SZ on Monday (p2) reported similar declarations made on CNN.
International reactions were mixed as the vaccine only entered Phase III trials last week, Handelsblatt (p1, 4-5) reported on Wednesday, FAZ (p15) and SZ (p14) on Thursday. (APMHE 68522)
From a European and American point of view, the approval in Russia has only limited significance as hardly any data have been published for the project so far, Handelsblatt said.
Germany's Health Minister Jens Spahn said he is "very sceptical" about the lack of late-stage tests and transparency. A vaccine with the known data would be "unapprovable" in the EU, pharma lobby vfa's managing director Siegfried Throm told FAZ.
Svetlana Zavidova, executive director of Russia’s Association of Clinical Trials Organizations, has criticised the approval and said that she is "ashamed" of her country, SZ said. Declarations made by the Russian officials "look like propaganda in the Soviet Union" said Russian epidemiologist Vassily Vlassov, who pointed out that has the government has lowered the legal hurdles to accelerate the approval.
However, more than 20 countries have asked for permission to manufacture the vaccine for their population, such as Brazil, the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates, FAZ said.
The development of a vaccine is also a matter of national pride for China and India, Spiegel pointed out.
Three out of six candidates in Phase III have been developed by Chinese reseachers. But clinical tests must be carried out abroad as China has not enough Covid-19 infected people.
In July, Indian officials asked for an acceleration of clinical tests in order to be able to approve Bharat Biotech vaccine candidate Covaxin on 15 August, the country's independence day, before rowing back after academics, as well as Bharat, said this was not feasible.

BioNTech advances cancer projects and Covid-19 vaccine candidates

Germany's BioNTech is managing to advance its mRNA cancer vaccine projects at the same time as its Covid-19 vaccine candidates, developed with Pfizer, thanks to several public offerings since its IPO in November 2019, FAZ reported on Wednesday (p20).
Several governments have signed supply deals with the biotech for more than 250 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, once it would be approved - 100 million of which are planned to be manufactured this year, and 1.3 billion doses in 2021.
Sales of €42 million could not offset research and development costs of €95 million in 2020, leading to total losses of €88 million, according to BioNTech results for the second quarter, FAZ said.

Bayer expands in gynaecology area by buying UK biotech KaNDy

Bayer is expanding its gynaecology business by buying UK biotech KaNDy Therapeutics in a €875 million deal FAZ (p18) and SZ (p20) reported on Wednesday (APMHE 68504).
With the biotech, Bayer receives a drug candidate, potentially worth billions, developed to treat menopause symptoms. It has already prompted positive study results and is expected to enter late-stage testing in 2021, with expected peak sales to exceed €1 billion globally, SZ said.

Drug vending machines forbidden in Germany

Drug vending machines installed by Dutch mail-order pharmacy Doc Morris do not comply with Germany's drug legislation and have to be removed, according to Germany's Federal Court of Justice (BGH), FAZ reported on Wednesday (p18).
In the village of Hüffenhardt in South-West Germany, Doc Morris had set up a video terminal combined with a distribution terminal, through which patients could talk to a pharmacist remotely and receive prescription drugs.

Thermo Fischer did not convince Qiagen shareholders

Thermo Fischer's attempt to acquire German genetic testing and molecular diagnostic company, Qiagen, failed as the U.S. company did not convince enough shareholders to join, Handelsblatt (p24) and FAZ (p21) said on Friday. (APMHE 68535)
Thermo Fischer's failure was foreseeable after several financial investors had signalled their rejection of the deal in recent weeks.
Valued at €11.3 billion, the deal would have been the largest ever takeover in German biotech.
A takeover of Qiagen by a competitor is off the table for the time being, Handelsblatt said.
"I doubt Thermo Fisher will ever come back. The wording was too clear for that. And I don't see any other bidder for Qiagen at the moment," said Daniel Wendorff, a pharmaceutical and biotech expert at Commerzbank.

Patients insufficiently monitored on potential drug interactions in Germany

Patients taking several drugs are insufficiently monitored in Germany despite existing obligation to run a medication plan, according to a report published by statutory payer Barmer, Die Welt reports on Friday (p20). (APMHE 68540)
One reason is a persisting lack of communication between the inpatient and outpatient sectors, especially when patients received a prescription during an hospitalisation.
According to Barmer's survey, only 29% of patients over 65 taking five or more drugs had a standardised medication plan, meant to monitor their drug intake, while 17% had no list of drugs they are taking.

Health checks and early cancer detection postponed in Germany

Due to the corona situation, many people have postponed usual health checks and early cancer detection in Germany, according to a survey done by the University of Erfurt and the Federal Centre for Health Education, said Die Welt on Friday (p20).
Since March, 22% of those questioned have postponed a visit to the dentist and 16% a health check-up. 11% stated having delayed an early cancer detection - among them were significantly more women (14%) than men (8%).

Kodak U.S. funding on hold

The U.S. government's plans for a $765 million loan to photo equipment maker Kodak for producing pharmaceutical ingredients have been put on hold, as investigations into alleged insider trading have started, FAZ (p20) and SZ (p18) reported on Monday (APMHE 68506).
U.S. President Donald Trump announced the deal in July "as a breakthrough" of fostering U.S. drug manufacturing, SZ said.
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