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UK NICE rejects Novartis, Amgen's Aimovig; House votes to intervene in ACA suit

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UK NICE rejects Novartis, Amgen's Aimovig; House votes to intervene in ACA suit

Top news

* The U.K. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence did not recommend Amgen Inc. and Novartis AG's migraine treatment Aimovig, citing cost concerns. The drug price watchdog was evaluating Aimovig for preventing chronic and episodic migraine in adults who have four or more episodes of migraine every month even after undergoing at least three prior treatments.

* Three U.S. Republicans in the House of Representatives joined Democrats in adopting a resolution to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The vote yesterday was 235 to 192.

House Democrats had already filed a motion late last week to intervene in the lawsuit, in which Judge Reed O'Connor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled on Dec. 14, 2018, that when congressional Republicans under their 2017 tax reform package zeroed out the ACA's tax penalty for the individual mandate, that action rendered the remainder of the 2010 healthcare law unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department, representing the administration, this week also filed its own notice of appeal in the case. The agency also asked the Fifth Circuit to put the case on hold in light of the ongoing U.S. government shutdown.

On the policy front

* Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Democratic Reps. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, Ro Khanna of California, Peter Welch of Vermont and Joe Neguse of Colorado plan to unveil a legislative package on Jan. 10 that takes aim at high prescription drug prices.

Meanwhile, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar confirmed he and other officials met Jan. 8 with Trump at the White House to discuss the administration's efforts to implement its May 2018 strategic plan to lower prices.

Our features

Of Mice Not Men: Llamas and flu prevention; TB treatment in a spray: Scientists are using antibodies made by llamas in the latest quest to find a treatment to prevent the flu.

Other features

* The Chinese government ordered its officials to stop discussing the Asian country's Thousand Talents Program — a plan that aims to recruit tech talent from other countries, the (U.K.) Financial Times reported. The newspaper also has a feature about China's growing health insurance industry.

* The (U.K.) Times writes about how statins — drugs which are used to reduce the level of fat in a person's blood — could be repurposed to treat mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. One study with 140,000 patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder were less likely to be hospitalized or to harm themselves when they were taking statins, and researchers believe the medications themselves may reduce inflammation in the brain or may help the antipsychotic medicines to work more effectively.

* The New York Times writes about a large-scale analysis of women that showed that hormone replacement skin patches entail no established risk for blood clots, as opposed to oral hormone replacement therapy, which is known to increase the risk for the potentially fatal clots.

* CNBC writes about a smartphone app developed by researchers at the University of Washington that can detect an opioid overdose and notify emergency services.

* FiercePharma has features about how Novartis is using artificial intelligence to beef up its sales department and about how Johnson & Johnson is eyeing opportunities in the crowded immunology market.

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, Hang Seng increased 0.22% to 26,521.43, while the Nikkei 225 fell 1.29% to 20,163.80.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 fell 0.11% to 6,899.04 and the Euronext 100 was down 0.54% to 930.56.

Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

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