In this week’s news, pharma diverting R&D cash to Brexit planning, Orphan drug boom, nanoparticle tech impresses in cancer trial and more…

UK drug firms diverting R&D money to Brexit contingency planning says ABPI

UK pharmaceutical companies are spending millions to try and Brexit-proof supply chains according to ABPI CEO Mike Thompson, who says R&D expenditure has fallen as a result.

Thompson spoke with Bloomberg this week, explaining that firms are preparing for regulatory and trade hurdles after the UK withdraws from the European Union, expanding facilities and moving marketing authorizations.

“People will look back and say this money has been wasted” Thompson said.

UK based pharmaceutical companies GSK and AstraZeneca have said they will start testing and releasing more UK-made products at facilities in Europe.

International drug manufacturers are also spending money to get ready for Brexit. US drug firm Merck & Co has said it may stockpile goods and revise trade routes in preparation.

The drug industry is worried about possible delays to approvals when the European Medicines Agency moves to Amsterdam next year Thompson said.

Global pharma set for orphan drug boom

The global market for orphan drugs is growing significantly according to research by EvaluatePharma, which suggests developers are focusing on niche, high value productions.

The research paper concludes that orphan drugs – which treat rare diseases – are attractive because of market opportunities and regulatory measures that encourage their development.

According to the authors “continuing unmet medical need is set to fuel the growth of the worldwide orphan drug market with sales predicted to grow at over 11% a year to $262bn by 2024. By 2024, orphan drugs will represent over a fifth of the worldwide prescription market.”

The high prices some orphan drugs can demand is another factor according to EvaluatePharma. The market analysis group said industry has found a way to make the economics of developing niche products more attractive.

“Despite a slowdown in pricing, the report shows that the mean cost per patient per year still managed to hit $147,308 in 2017, more than four times the mean cost for non-orphan drugs at $30,708.”

Nanoparticle therapy impresses in early cancer trials

A developmental nanoparticle therapy has shown promise as a treatment for cancer German researchers report.

According to InvestEU NanoTherm, which is being developed by Berlin-based biotech MagForce, has potential to be a real innovation in the treatment of a wide range of cancers.

NanoTherm consists of magnetic nanoparticles that are injected into a tumour. A magnetic field is then used to heat them, causing them to vibrate.

Depending on the temperature and length of treatment, the tumour cells are either destroyed or made more sensitive to radio- or chemotherapy.

Also in the news

Fiercepharma reports that Sun Pharma’s manufacturing plant in Halol, India has been given the all clear by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The US is not prepared for future epidemics according to an editorial in the Atlantic.

Author Ed Yong warns that “The White House is now home to an inattentive, conspiracy-minded president. We should not underestimate what that could mean.”