Press review


Germany's InflaRX sees potential in anti-inflammatory drug repurposed against Covid-19 - press

BERLIN, 28 Aug (APM) - German biotech InflaRx sees potential in its anti-inflammatory drug IFX-1 repurposed against Covid-19, said Handelsblatt on Thursday (p17).
Results of a Phase II trial on 30 patients showed a reduction in mortality of around 50% in Covid-19 intubated patients with particularly severe disease. InflaRx now wants to test IFX-1 in a Phase III study involving 360 participants.
InflaRx wants now to test IFX-1 in combination with dexamethasone in the hope that the combination will further reduce the risk of death, Handelsblatt said.
The Covid trial offers Inflarx a great opportunity to confirm the mechanism of action IFX-1, a monoclonal anti-complement factor C5a antibody as a strategy against pathological inflammatory processes. This was unsuccessful in the first attempt in Hidradenitis Suppurativa, causing the company to lose significant market value in 2019 (APMHE 63239).

Moderna and BioNTech do not fear each other's competition in Covid-19 vaccine field

U.S. biotech Moderna and German biotech BioNTech do not fear each other's competition in the race to get a Covid-19 vaccine approved, their chief executives said in separate interviews in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) on Thursday (p21) and Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) published on Friday (p15).
Both companies develop m-RNA-based vaccine. BioNTech, in partnership with Pfizer, plans to file for approval in October (APMHE 68626) while Moderna expects first Phase III results in November, maybe earlier in October and market approval next year.
Moderna's Stéphane Bancel sais he is not worried by rival BioNTech being seemingly a bit ahead.
"We hope that BioNTech will receive approval," as one single company alone will not be able to meet the world's needs, Bancel said. In addition, BioNTech's pivotal data could even be helpful for Moderna, he added.
It is good that other companies work on mRNA-based vaccines, said BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin.
The three companies working on this technology - Moderna, CureVac and BioNTech - have optimised their platforms over years. There are differences between the three in the chemical structure and genetic sequence of RNA, the lipid nanoparticles used and the manufacturing processes themselves.
BioNTech has speeded up several procedures in the development of its Cocid-19 vaccine candidates, Sahin said (APMHE 68692). He called for accelerating drug development and approval by optimising some steps.

Two many studies on drugs against Covid-19

Two many studies testing drugs against Covid-19, some of them meaningless, are under way, said Handelsblatt on Thursday (p1, 16-17)
Around 750 compounds are being tested against Covid-19 in Phase II and three in Phase III while more than ,3000 studies in the field of Covid-19 are registered, of which more than 90% related to therapeutic approaches, according to the database
One example is the "emergency use authorisation" given by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the use of convalescent plasma to treat Covid-19 in hospitalised patients. The FDA faced criticism from scientific experts who raised concerns about the lack of data on the treatment (APMHE 68641) while others said this was motivated by political pressure (APMHE 68643).
Former FDA commissioners Scott Gottlieb and Mark McClellan called for concentrating clinical research on large trials with the most promising product candidates rather than including patients in "too many poorly designed trials".
They recommended duplication in drug development in the U.S. 'Warp Speed Initiative' for Covid-19 vaccines, which selected seven candidates and accelerated their development.

Freezing container business boomed during coronavirus crisis

German company Va-Q-Tec has delivered tens of thousands of thermally insulated packaging systems for pharma and testing companies during coronavirus crisis, FAZ reported on FAZ on Saturday (p21)
Va-Q-Tec containers have played an important role in the distribution of corona test kits to all kinds of regions of the world.
The company, which employs around 500 people, aims to achieve sales of more than €70 million this year, an increase of 10% to 15%. In the first half of the year, sales rose 14% to €35.7 million. At the same time, the share of medical products jumped sharply from the usual two thirds to 77%.

Covid-19 vaccine transport to boost air freight

Air freight transport companies are expecting an increase activity in the second quarter of 2021 onwards as large quantities of Covid-19 vaccines will be distributed worldwide, FAZ said on Thursday (p20).
Initial estimates assume that around 8,000 cargo flights will be necessary worldwide, said Jörg Bodenröder from Lufthansa Cargo in the Air Cargo conference. There would be technical challenges if millions of vaccine doses had to be transported cooled or frozen.
According to Bodenröder, Frankfurt airport is well placed as Europe's largest distribution point for pharmaceutical products, including 12,000 square metres of handling space designed for refrigerated products.

Early vaccination for workers of China's state-owned companies

Workers of China's state-owned going abroad have received doses of Covid-19 developed by state-owned pharmaceutical company Sinopharm, FAZ wrote on Saturday (p5) and SZ on Wednesday (p7).
Papua New Guinea's health authorities refused workers of mining company MCC to enter the country after they were informed that they were vaccinated against Covid-19 and could therefore be positive to antibodies blood tests. Health authorities raised concerns on the lack of information and poential risks of import of unapproved vaccines.
In July, media reported the state-owned oil company Petro-China is also providing its employees with a vaccine "for emergencies".
Sinopharm portrayed the vaccinated people in advertising texts as heroes and patriots who would help "forge the sword of victory" praising their "spirit of sacrifice".
"The slogans give an idea of the pressure on companies to demonstrate China's leadership in the global race for a vaccine against coronavirus," FAZ said.

Corona slows down Fresenius' growth

The slowdown caused by the Coronavirus pandemic is dampening Fresenius's outlook even if its business model is robust, said Handelsblatt on Thursday (p24).
The pandemic is slowing down three out of four divisions, including the drug division Kabi whose growth is driven by the hospital sector. Because fewer surgeries are performed, Kabi is growing more slowly and earns less. Sales in the first half of the year increase by only 2% and operating income is 5% below the previous year.
The dialysis subsidiary Fresenius Medical care is the only division to have developed successfully in the first half of the year.

Bayer strips away U.S. litigation risks

Bayer is clearing all its major litigation cases in in the U.S. with the agreement reached on its Essure contraceptive device, Handelsblatt said on Monday (p20).
The big clean-up began at the end of June with the $10 billion agreement to settle the claims on glyphosate-based herbicide and is followed by the $1.6 billion settlement on Essure, also reported FAZ on Saturday (p24). (APMHE 68612).
The reason for the out-of-court settlement is the same as in other cases, Handelsblatt said. Bayer no longer wants to charge itself with negative publicity through litigation. Bayer fears for its reputation, in particular in women's health, if it is constantly associated only with litigation in the U.S.
In addition, the company would probably have had no chance of success in litigation, the newspaper added.
Essure, acquired through the takeover of Conceptus in 2013, is likely to go down in Bayer's history as "one of the biggest blunders to date", Handelsblatt said.

Pharma senior Larry Rosen becomes Qiagen's chairman of the board

Larry Rosen, who held various senior positions in the pharmaceutical industry, has been appointed chairman of the supervisory board of Qiagen, FAZ reported on Saturday (p20) and Monday (p20) as well as Handelsblatt on MOnday (p46).
He is succeeding Hakan Björklund, who held the position for two years and resigned a few days after the failure of a takeover attempt by U.S. company Thermo Fisher. However, Qiagen gave no explanation for Björklund's resignation, noted FAZ and Handelsblatt.
Rosen has been a member of Qiagen's supervisory board since 2013.



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