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Top Ten most popular articles on Pharmafile.com this week

Another week dominated by COVID-19. Among our most popular stories this week, Celltrion's infliximab biosimilar Remsima has scored approval for five different indications in Europe, while the UK Government continues to sign deals to secure doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, with the latest being for 60 million doses of GSK and Sanofi's potential therapy. But the most read story this week was the positive footprint Glenmark's favipravir made in the treatment of COVID-19, accelerating clincal recovery. 

UK Government secures 60 million doses of Sanofi and GSK's COVID-19 vaccine

The UK Government has sealed another deal to procure an effective COVID-19 vaccine for its citizens, partnering up with Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline to reserve 60 million doses of their potential prophylactic candidate currently in development.

The latest deal marks the fourth signed by the UK Government to secure a potential COVID-19 vaccine, with agreements previously signed with companies including BioNTech and AstraZeneca, earmarking 250 million doses for British patients in total.

£20bn promised to NHS but questions over where money will come from

Image: Arno Mikkor

Theresa May finally attempted to tackle the elephant in the room for the UK government, well, the one other than progression of Brexit discussions, by pledging that the NHS would receive a funding boost of £20 billion per year.

The amount promised by May amounts to an increase in spending of 3.4% on the NHS annually, after a period under the coalition government where funding was limited to 1.1% increases and then rises averaging 2.3% under the Conservative government.

NHS England uses £10m fund to retain GPs

On the day that news broke, through Pulse, that over a million patients have had to move GP surgery in the last five years due to closures, NHS England released £10 million in funds to try to retain more GPs within the service.

£7 million of the funding will go directly into regional schemes to encourage GPs to stay at local practices and to offer support through the ‘GP Retention Scheme’ that was launched in 2017.

Report calls for tax rises to fund ailing NHS

A report published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has stressed that UK funding into the NHS needs to rise by 4% year on year for services to improve. It revealed for the service to even maintain current levels of care, spending would still need to increase by 3.3%.

Beyond the healthcare system, the report also identified an urgent need to put more money into social care funding and called for a 3.9% increase each year to meet the needs of an ageing population.

UK MPs call for Brexit priority over pharma industry

A new report published by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has called for the UK government to ensure that the pharmaceutical industry is aligned as closely as possible to European regulation post-Brexit.

The call is the most direct recommendation yet, from within government, for what the pharmaceutical industry has been asking for since Brexit was first announced.

House of Lords unloads both barrels on Government’s life science strategy approach

The Life Sciences Industrial Strategy was supposed to forge a path forward for the industry, despite pressures from Brexit, to go from strength-to-strength as a pillar of the UK economy.

Now, a House of Lords report has taken a scathing assessment of the UK government’s commitment to actually following the recommendations of the report, which had been backed by business, the charity sector and from within academia.

UK Ministers call on Vertex to speed up price negotiations

After a parliamentary debate in the House of Commons regarding making Orkambi available to patients with cystic fibrosis (CF), MPs have now written to the company calling on them to show “the utmost urgency to proceed with negotiations”.

The debate comes after Vertex had rejected a counter-proposal by NHS England, in regards to the price that the service was prepared to pay for treatment was rejected by Vertex.

Orkambi is able to treat about 40% of patients with CF, compared to its breakthrough treatment, Kalydeco, which can only treat 5% of patients.

EMA initiates divorce process from the UK’s MHRA

The first stage of separation for the EMA from the UK came with the decision to relocate its headquarters to Amsterdam, and now the second stage has taken place whereby the EMA has reassigned the MHRA’s role vetting medicines to other countries.

All of this has been brought about by Brexit; the surprise decision to go ahead with uncoupling the EMA’s medicine verification process from the MHRA immediately after the deadline for Brexit will have brought even more uncertainty for UK industry.

May hints at providing long-term funding plan for NHS

Image: Arno Mikkor

After the news broke earlier in the week of a group of nearly 100 MPs calling for a parliamentary commission to be set up to assess the future of the NHS, UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, conceded that a long-term plan was needed, which may include additional funding.

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