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Daily Brief: Novartis exits anti-infectives drive, Hancock takes over from Hunt and Trump attacks 'soft Brexit' plan

The latest from pharma, biotech and healthcare

Novartis joins big pharma’s antimicrobial research exodus

Novartis

Novartis has become the latest big pharma company to exit anti-infectives research, dealing a blow to efforts to generate new products.

The company has announced that it will close its antibacterial and antiviral research programmes at its research campus in Emeryville, California, with 140 jobs being lost as well.

There is hope that there will be a buyer for its lead candidates, however: LYS228 is in phase II trials for complicated intra-abdominal infection (cIAI) and complicated urinary tract infection (cUTI). The company has also been working on viral diseases such as dengue fever.

Recent years have seen a steady stream of big pharma companies abandoning the therapy area: AstraZeneca, BMS, Roche and Lilly have also closed down research, reflecting the tough drug development challenges and the lack of strong market incentives, where demand is small and new products are reserved for ‘last resort’ use.

New incentives and novel public-private alliances are being forged to stimulate research. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb published proposals to entice industry investment in antibiotic R&D last month, while the EU and WHO are also funding collaborative initiatives.

Read more here.


Health secretary focuses on tech – but big questions await

Matt Hancock

Following the cabinet reshuffle forced upon Prime Minister Theresa May by two Brexit-related resignations, Matt Hancock has found himself in charge at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

He takes over from Jeremy Hunt, who was in charge of the department for nearly six years, and who focused on patient safety. He also recently secured extra funding for the NHS as it reached its 70th birthday.

By contrast, Hancock has only been a senior minister since January this year, and comes from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

His focus there was on digital technology, and writing an inaugural article in the Health Service Journal, Hancock praises the NHS, affirming his support for its values, and pledges to make sure digital technology helps healthcare professionals provide better patient care.

“Using the best of modern technology must be done in a way that improves care, makes money go further, and makes life easier for staff,” he writes.

However Hancock faces some far more pressing matters – namely the growing demand for health and social care, set against the limited budget available.

Today saw the release of new figures, which show waiting times up across the NHS, with people waiting for an operation now at 4.3 million, the highest total for 10 years.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation commented on the figures:

“This is a baptism of fire for the new health secretary. These performance figures show a system under intolerable strain with growing accident and emergency attendances and emergency admissions. This is now the day-to-day reality of life at the clinical coalface, but it cannot go on.

Dickson reiterated his view that the recent government funding increase to the NHS wasn’t enough, but that it nevertheless needed to be invested in ways to reduce pressure on hospitals and other services, rather than “prop up” the existing system.


Trump says May’s Brexit plan will ‘kill’ US trade deal

Photo credit: Number 10. Flickr

Donald Trump (pictured here at last night's black tie dinner at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire) has used his ‘working visit’ to the UK to trample over Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans for leaving the EU, saying a ‘soft Brexit’ would ‘kill’ chances of a free trade deal with the US.

The president’s explosive comments came yesterday in an interview with The Sun newspaper, in which he also claimed that May had ignored his advice on Brexit negotiations, and added that ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who resigned over the Chequers’ Brexit plan, would make a great future prime minister.

The comments also coincided with the much delayed launch of the UK government’s White Paper on Brexit, setting out its plans for future trading relations with the EU. While these have been welcomed by some sections of business, service industries, including the financial sector, say it makes no provisions for them, and will only accelerate their move to shift investment into the EU.

Read more: May’s Brexit plan cautiously welcomed by biopharma sector

Article by
Andrew McConaghie

13th July 2018

From: Regulatory

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