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Akcea, Galenica provide IPO updates; Trump signals healthcare shift


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Akcea, Galenica provide IPO updates; Trump signals healthcare shift

* After the failure by the Republicans March 24 to get their legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act through the House, President Donald Trump and officials in his administration signaled they are ready to work with Democrats to fix the U.S. healthcare system. "It would be nice to get the Democrats on board," White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said during a March 26 appearance on the political program "Fox News Sunday."

* Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., plans to introduce legislation for a nationwide single-payer system of healthcare coverage in the U.S., similar to Medicare, the government's insurance program for the elderly and the disabled. Sanders is hoping to gain bipartisan support for his bill and is urging U.S. President Donald Trump to allow imports of prescription drugs from Canada and other industrialized nations to lower costs.

M&A and capital markets

* Akcea Therapeutics Inc., a subsidiary of Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc., filed for an IPO and also applied for listing on the Nasdaq Global Market under the trading symbol AKCA.

* Galenica Ltd. reportedly plans to price the initial public offering of its Santé unit in the range of CHF31 to CHF39 per share. The offering will give the unit a market capitalization of about CHF1.55 billion to CHF1.95 billion.

* Abbott Laboratories divested 44 million shares of Mylan NV for $41.60 apiece in a privately negotiated block trade conducted March 23. Following the sale, Abbott's holding in Mylan dropped by 63% to 4.81%.

* Johnson & Johnson unit Ethicon Inc. acquired Minnesota-based medical device company Torax Medical Inc. to access the LINX reflux management system for the surgical treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Drug and product pipeline

* AstraZeneca PLC reportedly received approval from China's Food and Drug Administration to market its new lung cancer drug Tagrisso in the country. The approval comes as the Chinese regulator vowed to hasten drug approvals and is considering simplifying requirements for international clinical trials.

* The European Medicines Agency's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use adopted a positive opinion for Novo Nordisk A/S' orphan drug Refixia for hemophilia B and Pfizer Inc.'s anti-infection vaccine Trumenba. It also recommended Novo Nordisk's basal insulin Tresiba for a label update.

* Meanwhile, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Merck & Co. Inc. were successful in securing the European Medicines Agency's backing to extend the indications of their cancer drugs Opdivo and Keytruda, respectively.

* In other news, the European Medicines Agency recommended the suspension of medicines for which bioequivalence studies were conducted by Micro Therapeutic Research Labs at its two sites in India. The suspension was recommended due to concerns regarding misrepresentation of study data and deficiencies in documentation.

* Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co. Ltd. is hoping its lead attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, drug candidate can be used to treat an eating disorder, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. The company expects to file a new drug application for dasotraline with the U.S. FDA for ADHD in fiscal 2017 and for binge eating disorder in the following year.

Operational activity

* Biotechnology company Alexion Pharmaceuticals appointed Ludwig Hantson as the CEO of the company, effective immediately. Hantson most recently served as the president and CEO of Baxalta, a Baxter International Inc. spinoff.

* Responding to shareholder criticism of a 2015 spike in CEO Flemming Ornskov's salary, Shire PLC lowered his long-term incentive plan by 20% in 2016, according to the company's annual report. The company reduced the CEO's long-term incentives to 575% of his base salary. The previous year, Ornskov's overall compensation rose 422%, including a base salary bump from $1.3 million in 2014 to $1.7 million in 2015, due to retention concerns.

* Although the board of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. said it is "disappointed" with its financial performance, it remains confident in Chairman and CEO Joseph Papa, as evidenced by his 2016 compensation of $62.7 million.

* Eli Lilly & Co. intends to invest $850 million in its U.S. operations, including research laboratories, manufacturing sites, and general and administrative areas in 2017. The investment will focus on the company's pipeline of potential medicines for the treatment of cancer, diabetes, pain and other unmet medical needs.

Now featured on S&P Global Market Intelligence:

* Healthcare and finance lead share buybacks in 2016, into 2017: For the third straight year, S&P 500 companies returned more money to shareholders than they did in 2007, while financial and healthcare companies dominated the year-over-year growth in share repurchases in 2016.

* Athersys' MultiStem finds new life in Japan's regenerative medicine market: In a conversation with S&P Global Market Intelligence, Athersys Inc.'s CEO expressed interest in cashing in on the growing opportunities to develop regenerative medicine in Japan.

* Small companies play big role in search for superbug killers: According to an analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts, only five of the 34 companies working on powerful antibiotics rank among the top 50 big pharma companies, leaving smaller companies to lead the battle against superbugs.

* Affordable, accessible healthcare high on China's reform agenda: China aims to make basic healthcare services accessible to every citizen by 2020 as part of its Healthy China initiative, which could prove to be a boon for foreign drug manufacturers. The China Food and Drug Administration released a draft document on March 17 proposing to eliminate a local trial requirement for new foreign drugs.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng slid 0.68% to 24,193.70, while the Nikkei 225 fell 1.44% to 18,985.59.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.65% at 7,289.48 and the Euronext 100 0.20% lower at 967.06.

The Daily Dose is updated as of 6:30 a.m. ET. Some external links may require a subscription.