Press review

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German industry calls for talks with China in the health sector

Country : Brazil, China, Europe, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, U.S.

Keywords :
BERLIN, 21 Aug (APM) - The German industry lobby wants "cooperation" and "structured dialogue" between the EU and China in the health sector instead of a threat to trade barriers, says Handelsblatt on Friday (p12).
Trade and investment barriers must be "identified and removed", said industrial lobby BDI and the "German Health Alliance", an association of companies, non-governmental organisations and research institutions. in a position paper seen by the newspaper.
The EU and China could "jointly strengthen the health care of their 1.8 billion inhabitants through close cooperation between science, research and the health industry and together give new, weighty impetus to global health policy".
As talks on the relocation of drug manufacturing from Asia to Europe are high on the agenda of EU council, chaired by Germany in the second half of the year, the German industry sees China's health market as a great growth opportunity for companies.
BDI mentioned digitalisation and "harmonisation of approval procedures" for new products as potential areas of co-operation with China.
More surprisingly given current criticisms on China's alleged attempts to covered up the danger posed by the coronavirus, BDI mentioned joint action to prevent pandemics within the World Health Organization (WHO).
The BDI is also calling for pushing a "European health data space" "more quickly than before".

CureVac wants 'rewarding' price for its Covid-19 vaccine

CureVac wants a rewarding price for its Covid-19 vaccine, its chief executive said in interviews to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) on Sunday (p21), SZ (p1,16) and Handelsblatt (p18-19, 28). (APMHE 68561)
CEO Franz-Werner Haas told SZ it would consider a price range from €10 to €15.
Haas talked to the German press after the successful initial public offering (IPO), worth $213 million, on the U.S. Nasdaq, marked by a 250% share price leap on the first day of trading, it was commented in FAZ on Saturday (p29). The share price went from $16 initial to $55.90 on the first day.
The sensational trading debut, which led to the biotech being valued at almost $10 billion, is a success for Germany-based biotechnology, showing the growing appetite of the U.S. capital market for such investments, Handelsblatt said.
However, it is also a "warning signal" for German investors that biotechs only find fresh money and investors are ready to take risks on the U.S. market.
Almost a dozen German biotech companies are now listed on the Nasdaq or the New York Exchange, while Germany has not seen a single biotech IPO in Germany for years.
The question remains whether it is really healthy for high-tech sectors such as the biotech industry to be permanently excluded from Germany's capital market, the newspaper said .

Covid-19 vaccine market worth up to $100 billion

The global market for Covid-19 vaccines will be worth up to $100 billion over the next few years, Handelsblatt reported on Thursday (p4-5).
Experts from Bernstein Research calculated that the first wave of vaccination would generate $20 billion revenue, while Evercore ISI sees a total volume of $100 billion for the next few years. It would give a strong boost to the established vaccine market, which is worth around $35 billion.
For the last eight transactions by western countries alone, the order value for around 1.1 billion doses of vaccine adds up to around $10 billion on the basis of $18 per complete vaccination on average (two doses).
However, the price range, based on companies' declarations, is very wide, from $2.50 to $21 per vaccine dose.
The largest purchaser among the western industrialised countries is the U.S., which has ordered 800 million units of vaccine from six companies, while Japan has secured almost 500 million doses from three and the EU 400 million units with two companies.
The last deal, not yet signed but in advanced talks, was announced on Thursday between the European Commission and CureVac for 405 million doses, says FAZ (p17) and SZ (p18) on Friday. (APMHE 68601)
The market size will depend in the longer term on the durability of immunisation and whether regular repeat vaccination will be necessary, Handelsblatt added.
Other criteria such as efficiency, tolerability or efficacy in different population groups will then also determine whether the vaccines are successful in the market and could open up opportunities for manufacturers which are not involved in the first wave, it added.

Neither plan nor report on Russian Covid-19 vaccine available - expert

Researchers from Moscow's Gamaleya Institute cannot have written study plans for a Phase III trial nor data reports for the registration procedure of their newly-approved Covid-19 vaccine, Svetlana Zavidova, executive director of Russia's Association of Clinical Trials Organizations, told FAZ in an interview published on Wednesday (p29).
The actual study completion date was just one day before the registration, noted Zavidova.
It is unthinkable that efficacy was proven for the vaccine - actually two candidates, one in a liquid formulation, one as freeze-dried lyophilisate, she said. "Now that researches have been asked about the data, they have started promising that they would publish these," she added.

Accelerating Covid-19 vaccine trials risky

Accelerating Covid-19 vaccine trials is risky if usual safety steps are omitted, reports Die Welt on Friday (p20).
The regulatory authorities are allowing vaccine researchers to omit so-called "vaccination-challenge trial" on animals, although these are the gold standard for the evaluation of the immune response to vaccines. In the case of Covid-19, this step would be useful to detect a cytokine storm effect.
In Germany, the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI) allows "vaccination-challenge trial" to be carried in parallel to the vaccinations in humans.
If challenge tests with humans are officially frowned upon during vaccine development, they are taking place now as vaccine developers simply go where the virus is most prevalent and where it is easy to find volunteers. This is the case in Brazil, Die Welt says.

Rivals Roche and Regeneron join forces to find a Covid-19 therapy

Rivals Roche and Regeneron, in fierce competition over eye drugs, have agreed an unusual alliance to jointly market an antibody therapy against Covid-19 REGN-COV2, developed by Regeneron, said Handelsblatt on Thursday (p4-5) (APMHE 68587).
REGN-COV2, that is in late-stage development as a Covid-19 treatment, but also for prophylaxis in people exposed to the virus, is in competition with vaccines to a certain extent, the paper said.
Roche will bring its considerable production capacity in the antibody field to triple the supply of Regeneron's drug candidate.

Indian Serum Institute could manufacture two billion Covid-19 vaccine doses annually

The world's biggest vaccine manufacturer, Indian Serum Institue, plans to manufacture two billion doses of any Covid-19 vaccine annually, at a filling rate of 500 doses a minute, FAZ said on Monday (p19).
Serum has agreed to manufacture one billion doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine, of which 400 million until the end of the year (APMHE 67766) and has set the price for a dose at $3. Under this agreement, 100 million doses would be supplied to low-income countries.
Vaccine supporter Bill Gates, "impressed" by the ability of India's pharma industry to make vaccines for the whole world, agreed to pay $150 million to support Serum's owner family, the Poonawallas, in their $200 million investment in Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing.

German university hospital tests molgramostin in Covid-19

University hospital Marburg-Gießen in central Germany has started a clinical trial on granulocyte growth factor (G-CSF) molgramostin in Covid-19 to promote immune reactions to Covid-19 and recovery of lung tissue, FAZ reported on Tuesday (p36).
A similar molecule is marketed in the U.S. by Sanofi's Genzyme under the brand name Leukine (sargramostim) for the acceleration of white blood cell recovery.

German payer surplus reports €1.27 billion surplus in first half

Germany's statutory payers recorded a surplus of €1.27 billion in the first half of the year, as patients have not made use of many services offered by hospitals and other healthcare providers during the Covid-19 pandemic, FAZ reported on Wednesday (p17).
Payer group vdek, comprising six major payers covering 28 million insurees, saw a surplus of €908 million and declines of 33% in prevention and rehabilitation, 15% in health services, 13% in dental care and 8% in hospitals - which corresponded to lower expenses of 3% per insuree.
However, payers' drug spend grew in the first half. Also, payers have predicted for the second half into 2021 an increase in expenses and an imbalance in the financing pool due to Covid-19 testing and compensation to hospitals and physicians, FAZ said.

Antibody drugs against migraine too frequently prescribed in Germany

Antibody drugs against migraine are increasingly prescribed but not always in line with requirements, according to a report by payer TK, Die Welt said on Thursday (p20) (APMHE 68596)
Although the three marketed CGRP inhibitors have proven an added benefit if none of the available pre-therapies is effective, TK data showed that they are not always used in a targeted manner.

Sanofi buys Principia biotech

On Monday, Sanofi announced plans to buy U.S.-based autoimmunology specialist Principia for $3.4 billion, which has been Sanofi's partner since 2017, FAZ reported on Tuesday (p22) (APMHE 68559).
Jefferies analysts said that the buyout offers long-term options at low risk and also is in line with Sanofi's strategy of "targeted acquisitions" in oncology, immunology, allergies and rare diseases, FAZ said.

U.S. states demand $2.2 trillion compensation from Oxycontin maker Purdue

Federal U.S. states demand a $2.2 trillion compensation from Oxycontin (oxycodone) maker Purdue Pharma, as the company is held responsible for many of the 350,000 to 450,000 deaths in the national opioid crisis, FAZ reported on Wednesday (p22).
Also, federal states demand payments totalling $26 billion from pharma wholesalers, who should have reported conspicuous order patterns in districts with heavily prescribing physicians, and from Johnson & Johnson.
Most lawsuits are still pending. Most companies cannot pay the sums demanded; Purdue is worth $2 billion only, for example. A $10 billion settlement proposed by the Purdue-owning Sackler family was not signed, the family declined to give further information on its private funds.

Janssen pays 70% premium to Momenta shareholders in $6.5 billion buyout

Johnson & Johnson's Janssen announced on Wednesday it is paying $52.50 per share, $6.5 billion in total, to buy U.S.-based Momenta biotech, which is a 70% premium for shareholders compared to Tuesday's closing price, FAZ reported on Thursday (p21) (APMHE 68591).
Auto-immune specialist Momenta has been developing antibody nipocalimab in clinical testing in dermatology and rheumatology indications. Janssen sees blockbuster potential of more than $1 billion peak sales in the candidate.
This deal and Sanofi's Monday announcement to buy Principia biotech at $3.4 billion demonstrate the worth of biotechs for big pharma companies - an attempt to compensate for sales declines due to "gaps in their own pipelines and patent expiries", FAZ said.
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