Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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Astellas UK Slapped on Wrist by ABPI for "Lamentable Lack of Concern for Patient Safety"

Astellas UK Slapped on Wrist by ABPI for "Lamentable Lack of Concern for Patient Safety" | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Astellas’ U.K. unit was already suspended from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry thanks to what the trade group last year called “serious breaches” of its code of practice. And now, that suspension has been extended.

The organization has tacked another 12 months onto Astellas’ penalty, it said Friday, citing cases that “have shown wholly inadequate oversight and control at both Astellas UK and Astellas Pharma Europe and a 'lamentable lack of concern for patient safety.'” And the re-suspension very nearly became an expulsion, it noted.

The extra 12 months come in response to three new cases that Astellas voluntarily served up over the course of audits this April and last September. One case “highlighted a lack of oversight and training of agency nurses who delivered patient support programs, including failing to update them with product changes,” the ABPI said. Two others focused on “failures to update and provide complete prescribing information for a number of medicines.”

All three of these instances raised “very serious concerns around patient safety,” the ABPI said, adding that Astellas UK’s “failure to understand the scale of the problem was concerning.”

As for Astellas, it said Friday that "we deeply regret our failings, and in light of this we have reinforced our focus on patient safety. We are committed to providing the highest standards of care for everyone who relies on our medicines and services."

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Astellas Mimics Pfizer & Launches TV Ad Campaign to Boost Its Reputation

Astellas Mimics Pfizer & Launches TV Ad Campaign to Boost Its Reputation | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Pharma company Astellas has launched a corporate branding ad with CNN that showcases the work of its employees to help patients.


The ad is part of a long-term corporate branding strategy it has worked on for several years. The company worked with CNN to develop the ad and with Edelman on corporate reputation and branding.


"Our company is only 11 years old and we are the product of a merger of two other Japanese companies," said Jeff Winton, chief communications officer at Astellas. "Obviously from a corporate branding standpoint, whenever you start over instead of using one of the predecessor’s names you’re starting from scratch again. We want to make sure our name was recognized, well known, and respected."


The spot is running during on the show "CNN Heroes" on CNN and HLN in the U.S. and on CNN International through March 2017.


While CNN’s ratings are higher in an election year, Winton said that wasn’t the only reason Astellas partnered with the network.


"’CNN Heroes’ is the part of CNN that makes people feel really good," Winton said. "It’s the unsung heroes. We tried it last year, working with this particular segment of CNN, and it worked really well."


The ad showcases Astellas’ employees and how the work they do helps patients. Winton said the target audience is the average CNN watcher, but it is also intended for Astellas employees, who Winton said are the company’s "brand ambassadors." The spot is also running on screens in Astellas’ U.S. headquarters for them to see, he added.


Earlier this year, Pfizer began a similar effort celebrating the work put into developing new drugs (read “Pfizer, U.S. Law Breaker & Tax Evader, Launches an Ad Campaign to Improve Its Rep”; Pharmaceutical companies are promoting the work of their staffers in an attempt to boost not only their individual reputations, but that of the industry as a whole in the wake of a decline in reputation largely due to pricing scandals, Winton noted.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Re: Pfizer – it may do better boosting its campaign if it were to lower the prices of vaccines. For more on that, read “Doctors Without Borders to Pfizer: We Don't Want Your ‘Free’ Vaccines. We Want Lower Prices!”;  The probable answer from Ian Read: "Sorry, guys. We got to focus on imperatives: Return on Capital." See the meme here:


Meanwhile, Astellas drugs have their own pricing issues, which are hurting the company's reputation. Read, for example, “Bitter Fruit: Astellas Taxpayer-funded Cancer Drug Costs $129,269 a Year”;

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Astellas Scientist Shows How to Light Ice on Fire!

Astellas Scientist Shows How to Light Ice on Fire! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

The Astellas YouTube channel showcases several of its scientists as part of the company's Science WoRx (get it? ie, "Rx" for prescription) project, which is a local mentoring program and online resource network for science teachers.

I think this is an interesting program because it shows us some of the real people who work in the pharmaceutical industry and how they got there.


P.S. Astellas says "We understand that the future of innovation lies in our children and that a child’s interest in science is sparked in the classroom," says Astellas. "We also recognize that America’s science teachers are key in igniting this spark and that it’s their commitment that compels a child’s desire to pursue their interest further. In fact, many of our own employees attribute their passion for science to dedicated science educators like you."

It's too bad that state governments currently under Republican rule like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are drastically cutting funds to education and undermining the teachers that Astellas and other pharmaceutical companies depend upon to get future scientists on their payrolls. I think the drug industry needs to step forward FINANCIALLY to fill some of the void being created by draconian budget cuts. That's my opinion at least.


See the video here.


Further Reading:

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Bitter Fruit: Astellas Taxpayer-funded Cancer Drug Costs $129,269 a Year

Bitter Fruit: Astellas Taxpayer-funded Cancer Drug Costs $129,269 a Year | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Two nonprofit groups have petitioned the federal government to take actions to increase the competition for a cancer drug, developed by a Japanese company whose U.S. affiliate is in Northbrook, that costs $129,269 a year. The groups are asking the government to exercise its right to step in when the fruits of taxpayer-funded research are not "available to the public on reasonable terms," according to U.S. law.

The "march-in" rights are a last-ditch loophole that allows the government to intervene when inventions it helped create become inaccessible -- if "action is necessary to alleviate health and safety needs which are not being reasonably satisfied," the law states. The government essentially reserves the right to license patents that were made possible by federal funds to other companies in extreme circumstances -- potentially disrupting a lucrative monopoly.

The letter sent Thursday by Knowledge Ecology International and the Union for Affordable Cancer Treatment argues that the government should "march-in" on Astellas Pharma prostate cancer drug, Xtandi. Three key patents that cover the drug were granted to the University of California and were made possible by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense.

"In our opinion, it is unreasonable, and indeed outrageous, that prices are higher in the United States than in foreign countries, for a drug invented at UCLA using federal government grants," the petition states, furnishing its own analysis of the difference in prices in the U.S. and other developed countries.

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