FLORENCE, 21 Aug (APM) - Pharma has been a driver of strong growth in Italy's high-tech sales abroad, La Stampa reported on Wednesday.
In the first quarter, Italian exports of pharmaceutical, biomedical, ICT and aerospace products grew by around 12% with sales €1.5 billion higher than in the same quarter of 2019. This was much better than manufacturing as a whole which saw a 2% decline.
The figures came from the High-tech Sectors Monitor published by the research department of the Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo, La Stampa reported. The pharma sector saw its exports rise 24% in the first three months, including a 32.5% surge in March.
According to the analysis, the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus emergency and the lockdown will mean investments in 2020 will be focused on very specific sectors, including high-tech.
"The pharmaceutical sector, as well as the biomedical sector, will perform better as a result of the demand for medicines (with the most favourable prospects for vaccine manufacturers) and medical devices which are needed by doctors to deal with the health emergency," the report said.
It noted a strong move towards digitalisation in different fields, especially healthcare and education, which will further support demand for products and services with a high technological content.
Doctors, patients need independent medicines' information
Independent information about medicines needs to be made available to doctors and patients to contrast the marketing from pharma companies, a pharmacology expert said in an opinion piece for Eco di Bergamo published on Monday.
Silvio Garattini, who advised the health ministry last year on reform of drug pricing and reimbursement rules, described drugs as consumer goods. He warned that, as with all consumer goods, 'propaganda' is being used to persuade doctors, pharmacists and consumers of the benefits of products.
He said this has led to a complicated situation in the public health system. Normally it is the purchaser who chooses, pays for and uses a consumer good. But, in the national health service, it is the doctor who chooses the product but does not use it and does not pay for it. It is the patient who uses it without choosing it or paying for it.
Garattini noted how well equipped pharma is to market its products to doctors through medical representative who put the emphasis on the benefits of products in "private" visits to surgeries and hospitals .
The veteran expert suggested that this needs to be taken into account noting that spending on marketing accounts for around 30% of company budgets.
Garattini proposed that reps should be banned from visiting doctors surgeries and hospitals. This would free up more time for health professionals to concentrate on more important health issues, he said.
Covid-19 emergency caused a 20% fall in use of medicines
The Covid-19 emergency caused a 20% fall in the use of medicines, the regional newspaper Quotidiano di Ragusa reported on Thursday.
The situation was discussed at an annual event in Rimini, where industry, politicians, civil servants and the church meet to discuss the current state of affairs in Italy.
In a session on healthcare, an expert panel concluded that the emergency has inevitably changed the behaviour of patients who, out of fear of being infected, have gradually reduced visits to the doctor.
This has compromised disease control and reduced adherence to treatments significantly. In the worst cases, patients stopped treatment altogether. The results could be deteriorating health and a compromised health system, the experts warned.
Wednesday's Il Fatto Quotidiano reported on Johnson & Johnson's $6.5 billion (€ 5.4 billion) acquisition of Momenta Pharmaceuticals, which will see it expand in autoimmune disease treatments.
The price is 70% higher than the current market value of the U.S. company which is listed on the Nasdaq with capitalisation of $3.7 billion.
The move by J&J, the world's 10th largest pharmaceutical company with an annual turnover of $19 billion, follows hard on the heels of Sanofi snapping up Principia Biopharma for $3.6 billion, the paper noted.
Jennifer Taubert, J&J's executive vice president and global president of pharmaceuticals, stressed how the acquisition will extend leadership of the group's pharmaceutical division, Janssen, in autoimmune diseases and provide the group with an important catalyst for sustained growth.
The paper suggested that the deal is part of an M&A wave in the sector which is pushing up stock market prices.
Pharma is benefiting from the increase in orders, loans and purchases related to the Covid emergency. It is also responding to the White House's pressure to reduce dependency on supplies of medicines and components from foreign manufacturers, Il Fatto Quotidiano added.