Posts Tagged “Europe”

UK government pledges £250m artificial intelligence lab for health services

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UK government pledges £250m artificial intelligence lab for health services

UK government pledges £250m artificial intelligence lab for health services

The new lab aims to develop new technologies in healthcare but concerns remain over data handling

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, second from left, and Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock, left, speak with staff members during a visit to an NHS hospital on Monday. AFP

Britain’s National Health Service is to receive £250 million (Dh1.1 billion) to set up a National Artificial Intelligence Lab to develop high-tech treatments for cancer, dementia and heart disease, the UK government has announced.

Health and social care minister Matt Hancock announced the creation of the fund, which aims to turn the health service (NHS) into a world leader in the use of artificial intelligence in healthcare.

It is the latest in a series of announcements intended to underline the British government’s commitment to the NHS under prime minister Boris Johnson.

On Tuesday, Mr Johnson announced £1.8bn in NHS spending, including an £850m hospital upgrade programme to improve care in 20 hospitals across the UK.

Critics of the policy said the money is not enough to fix the damage caused by years of budget cuts.

Mr Hancock, a technology enthusiast who has developed his own app,…

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South Africa: Policy incoherence is destroying the economy and jobs, says business

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South Africa: Policy incoherence is destroying the economy and jobs, says business

Policy incoherence and uncertainty has hampered business growth in the country leading to massive job losses, leaders of various sectors of the economy told delegates at a Business Unity SA (Busa) indaba on Tuesday.

They said that the country continues to lose billions of rands in direct investment and the capacity to create millions of jobs due to policy confusion and weak government support.

The gathering, hosted by Busa, is to try and find ways to revive the economy.

While the government, business and labour have held frequent summits to formulate joint plans, the new Public-Private Growth Initiative (PPGI), which was introduced at the indaba, is advocating the formulation of five-year, sector-based plans.

The PPGI — led by Toyota Europe and Africa CEO Johan van Zyl, the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) professor Nick Binedell, and former constitutional negotiator Roelf Meyer — has done work in 22 sectors, several of which made presentations at the indaba.

CEO of agricultural business chamber Agribiz John Purchase said the capacity of the agriculture industry is being inhibited by a  lack of “relevant feasible policy” and targeted incentives, which would accelerate job creation. He said the industry plans to create about 20,000 new jobs…

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South Africa: Private hospitals warn draft NHI laws threaten 132,000 jobs

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South Africa: Private hospitals warn draft NHI laws threaten 132,000 jobs

National Health Insurance (NHI), which the government is pushing as the solution to SA’s health crisis, could lead to the loss of up to 132,000 jobs, according to the country’s private hospital groups.

NHI, spearheaded by health minister Aaron Motsoaledi, is the government’s policy for introducing universal health coverage and aims to ensure everyone has access to healthcare that is free at the point of service.

The Hospital Association of SA (Hasa), which represents the private hospital sector, was among the industry groups that presented their views on the risks to the economy at last week’s Business Unity SA (Busa) meeting.

The gathering brought together business and government leaders, who have been trying to forge a closer relationship under the auspices of the Public Private Growth Initiative spearheaded by former politician Roelf Meyer and Toyota Europe and Africa CEO Johan van Zyl.

Hasa commissioned economics consultancy Econex to analyse the potential effect of the National Health Insurance Bill and the Medical Schemes Amendment Bill, which were released for public comment last June.

It noted about R180bn is spent on private healthcare in SA each year, a third of which is spent on private hospitals. The three JSE-listed hospitals — Netcare, Mediclinic…

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FDA’s Gottlieb Aims To End Biosimilars Groundhog Day

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FDA’s Gottlieb Aims To End Biosimilars Groundhog Day

You have to wonder if key players in the biosimilars industry in the United States don’t feel like Phil Connors, the character played by Bill Murray in the 1993 classic movie Groundhog Day. (Is it safe to call it a classic?) Connors is condemned to relive the same events of February 2 until he transforms from being a jaded, binge-drinking souse to a charitable, conscientious person.

Those observing—and working in—the biosimilars industry might sometimes feel like the unrepentant Connors, waking to Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” every morning. For more than two decades, biosimilars in this country have been stuck in a repeat mode of potential and promise. Now hopes for breaking out of that loop are clinging to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and the “Biosimilars Action Plan”—or BAP—he announced last July. The idea is to dismantle the regulatory hurdles that have prevented the American health system from adopting biosimilars and cashing in on the price difference between the copycats and the brand-name medications. The problem is that even if Gottlieb’s BAP were to be fully implemented, there are still all sorts of legal and other obstacles in the way of biosimilars catching on.

FDA footdragging

Industry frustration…

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Should Sub-Saharan Africa Make Its Own Drugs?

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Should Sub-Saharan Africa Make Its Own Drugs?

With imports comprising as much as 70 to 90 percent of drugs consumed in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, many governments are considering whether it’s time to promote more local production. Drug imports, including both over-the-counter and prescription drugs, do considerably exceed those into China and India—where comparable populations import around 5 percent and 20 percent, respectively. And it does put strain on government and household budgets and already limited foreign exchanges.

To better understand the realities of promoting local drug production, we undertook a systematic analysis of the current state of the market. The analysis focused on simple, small molecules, such as generic drugs, since the economics and technical challenges would vary for more complex products, such as combination drugs, injectables, and vaccines. We evaluated the costs and benefits of increasing production not only in economic terms but also in their impact on the wider economy and on public health systems. We then compared that to local measures of feasibility, including government will, demand, investment attractiveness, and implementation capacity, especially with respect to quality (Exhibit 1).

The analysis depicts an opportunity that varies from country to country. In some countries, a manufacturing hub is unlikely to be economical. In a half…

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NHS England sees off AbbVie’s Hep C legal challenge

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NHS England sees off AbbVie’s Hep C legal challenge

NHS England has claimed a victory after a legal challenge by AbbVie was rejected by the High Court, and says plans to eliminate hepatitis C by 2025 are back on track.

The court victory – and NHS England’s reaction to it – reflect its growing confidence in its use of tough negotiations and procurement to drive down drug prices and strike access deals with pharma.

AbbVie is one of several companies to market the new class of hepatitis C (HCV) treatments known as Maviret (glecaprevir/pibrentasvir), which can cure patients of the serious blood infection. Maviret is in contention with rival treatments such as Gilead’s Sovaldi, Harvoni and Epclusa, to name a few.

NHS England had initially been slow in its uptake of these new curative treatments, but then last year declared it would aim to be the first country in the world to eliminate HCV, with a target date of 2025, and spending £1bn over five years to achieve this goal.

However, in order to make this £1bn stretch to treat millions of HCV patients, NHS England aimed to achieve this via its largest ever procurement process – and called on pharma companies to offer unprecedented discounts to their prices.

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WHO: antimicrobial resistance linked to large-scale overuse and misuse across countries.

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WHO: antimicrobial resistance linked to large-scale overuse and misuse across countries.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that antibiotics consumption is dangerously high in some countries while a shortage in others is spurring risky misuse, driving the emergence of deadly superbug infections.

In a first, the United Nations health agency said it had collated data on antibiotic use across large parts of the world and had found huge differences in consumption.

The report, based on 2015 data from 65 countries and regions, showed a significant difference in consumption rates from as low as around four so-called defined daily doses (DDD) per 1,000 inhabitants per day in Burundi to more than 64 in Mongolia.

“The large difference in antibiotic use worldwide indicates that some countries are probably overusing antibiotics while other countries may not have sufficient access to these life-saving medicines,” WHO warned in a statement.

Discovered in the 1920s, antibiotics have saved tens of millions of lives by defeating bacterial diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and meningitis.

But over the decades, bacteria have learned to fight back, building resistance to the same drugs that once reliably vanquished them.

The WHO has repeatedly warned the world is running out of effective antibiotics, and last year urged governments and big pharma to create…

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Iran: U.S. Sanctions resulting in patients unable to access medicines

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Iran: U.S. Sanctions resulting in patients unable to access medicines

The strain was evident in Alireza Karimi’s voice as he described his struggle to obtain the diazoxide pills his father needs to lower insulin levels and fight pancreatic cancer.

The medicine has to be imported, and until recently that was not a problem. But for the past three months, Mr. Karimi has not been able to find it anyplace, and there is now only one bottle left.

“Now that this medicine isn’t here, we’re forced to give him only one per day,” Mr. Karimi said in an interview over Telegram, a popular messaging app for Iranians. The reduced dosage has created complications, like the threat of convulsions and the need to monitor his father 24 hours a day to make sure his insulin levels do not spike, which could send him into a coma.

Anxieties over the availability of medicine are mounting in Iran with the reimposition this month of sanctions by the United States after President Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal.

Harsh banking restrictions and the threat of secondary sanctions for companies doing business with Iran have made it nearly impossible for foreign pharmaceutical companies to continue working in the country.

Trump administration officials say that the sanctions…

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Value-based pricing is important but so is affordability, says ISPOR Panel.

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Value-based pricing is important but so is affordability, says ISPOR Panel.

ISPOR, the professional society for health economics and outcomes research, held its second plenary of ISPOR Europe 2018 in Barcelona. The timely session, “Pharmaceutical Pricing: The Many Faces of Fairness,” sought to define “fair” in the context of pharmaceutical pricing.

Sarah Garner, PhD, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland moderated the panel discussion. The World Health Organization (WHO) convened the first Fair Pricing Forum in 2017 to focus global attention on high pharmaceutical prices that restrict access to essential patented medicines and on the unpredictability of low prices that can drive shortages in the generics sector. At this forum, stakeholders identified the need for a fairer system that is sustainable for health systems, investors, and the pharmaceutical industry.

Eric Low, OBE, Amyloidosis Research Consortium, East Lothian, Scotland, UK pointed out that while the current system of pricing works through discounting, better research will provide better evidence to help solve pricing issues. He also believes that it is important for countries to do fair and consistent evaluation of pharmaceuticals. Joep Muijrers, PhD, PureTech Health, Boston, MA, USA represented the investor’s perspective. He pointed out that “whether you ‘like’ investors or not,” investors contribute significantly to pharmaceutical innovation. Dr. Muijrers noted that investors…

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USA: Pharmaceutical startups that may upend new drugs regulations

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USA: Pharmaceutical startups that may upend new drugs regulations

It appears that nothing is safe from disruption by either the internet or the startup industry. The most recent development is a move by both well-established companies and burgeoning startups into the pharmaceutical industry, but could they really provide an alternative to a doctor?

Last year Amazon turned heads by hiring a general manager and around 40 staff to get the delivery company into the market for selling medicine, reported Pharmaceutical Journal. Their plan is to start in the US market, the site continued, with a view to enter the UK market if the venture is successful. This could drastically change the way we deal with drugs and prescriptions, and according to a nationwide survey, half of all Americans stated that they would be prepared to order drugs online from Amazon Pharmacy.

Nestling in the shadow of the delivery powerhouse are a plethora of drug-delivery startups, many of them created for a very specific market. Slick and stylish startups Hims and Roman focus on men’s health products, with an emphasis on issues likely to cause embarrassment such as erectile dysfunction (ED) or hair loss.

Roman’s website states that men are 50 percent less likely to go to a doctor over…

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