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GOP lawmakers hesitant to support ACA repeal; Biogen's MS drug under review

* An audit by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General showed that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services erroneously paid an estimated $729 million to professionals to accelerate the use of electronic health records.

* U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told attendees at a Milwaukee fundraiser that the Trump administration was working to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act before the end of summer, The Washington Times reported.

* Meanwhile, some Republican lawmakers are hesitant to support a bill to repeal and replace the ACA over worries that it could affect coverage of millions of people on substance-abuse treatment, The Wall Street Journal wrote.

* The Wall Street Journal carries a report on the U.S. investigation of charities that help patients pay for expensive drugs, including prostate cancer drug manufacturers who relied on such charities to boost sales.

M&A and capital markets

* The European Commission gave the final approval needed to complete Johnson & Johnson's acquisition of Actelion Ltd. As part of the transaction, Actelion will spin out its drug discovery operations and early stage clinical development assets into Idorsia Ltd. — a newly created Swiss biopharmaceutical company that will be listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange.

* Swedish biotechnology company Bonesupport priced its IPO on NASDAQ Stockholm at between 27 Swedish kronor and 31 Swedish kronor per share, translating to a market capitalization of 1.36 billion kronor to 1.47 billion kronor, Reuters reported.

Drug and product pipeline

* Merck & Co. Inc. and Pfizer Inc.'s oral investigational drug ertugliflozin met its primary endpoint of improving glycemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes. The drug was being investigated in two phase 3 studies and in combination with metformin or sitagliptin.

* Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s Praluent reduced low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and was found to be superior to usual care in reducing non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in two separate phase 3b/4 trials.

* The European Medicines Agency is reviewing Biogen Inc.'s multiple sclerosis drug Zinbryta following a patient's death from fulminant liver failure and four cases of serious liver injuries.

* An independent data monitoring committee recommended the early termination of XBiotech Inc.'s phase 3 trial of Xilonix, noting the study's findings were not enough to meet the colorectal cancer treatment's efficacy or the threshold for continuation.

Operational activity

* A federal jury asked AbbVie Inc. to pay $15 million in compensatory damages to Stevie Gonzalez, who was born with spina bifida. Gonzalez's mother alleged that the company's bipolar disorder drug Depakote caused the birth defect in the 10-year-old boy, Reuters reported.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng closed 1.24% lower to 25,708.04, while the Nikkei 225 decreased 0.52% to 19,908.58.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down by 0.14% to 7,516.47 and the Euronext 100 0.96% lower at 1,014.05.

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