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Bristol-Myers drug Opdivo rejected by NICE; Switzerland may ease marijuana laws

Top news

* The U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence rejected the routine use of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s Opdivo under the National Health Service for treating patients with bladder cancer who have previously undergone chemotherapy. The price watchdog said Opdivo had not been directly compared with other treatments in clinical trials so its efficacy compared to the standard of care was not clear.

* Switzerland is looking at ways to ease access to medical marijuana and plans to launch studies exploring new regulations that would allow the recreational use of cannabis, Reuters reported. A number of cities and cantons are undertaking studies to test out regulatory models, the publication said, citing the Federal Council, which governs the country. Low potency marijuana is already legal for recreational use, and people can obtain an exemption to use it for medical purposes.

* U.S. insurers have caused drug prices to drop in 2018 by forcing drugmakers to offer higher rebates on the list prices of certain drugs, Reuters reported. The tactic works by making patients pay a higher proportion of the copay, which leads them to choose a less expensive option unless they have a rebate from the drug company.

Operational activity

* Japanese drugmaker Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. is planning to sell its original Osaka headquarters and other buildings in the area for up to ¥60 billion, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. The company was founded at the site of the Osaka building in 1781, though its recently completed new headquarters are housed on a site in the Chuo ward of Tokyo, the Japanese paper said.

* Genscript Biotech Corp. plans to invest $75 million to set up a biologics clinical and commercial manufacturing center in Zhenjiang, China. The Jiangsu, China-based company intends to use the facility for the production of clinical samples and commercialized biologics. The facility will include areas for the production, filling, quality control and cold chain logistics for biologics, and warehouse facilities for raw and auxiliary materials, among other things.

Drug and product pipeline

* Bristol-Myers Squibb said the European Commission expanded the indication of its blood cancer drug Sprycel to treat children and adolescents. The drug, which will also be available in a powder form, is approved for adults with Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia.

Our features

New clot-busting drugs linked to lower risk of serious bleeding, study shows: Newer anti-clotting drugs such as Bristol-Myers Squibb's Eliquis cause less risk of a major bleeding episode than warfarin, the oral anticoagulant developed 70 years ago, a new study published in the British Medical Journal showed.

Other features

* Researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Germany found that certain combinations of antibiotics, along with several other compounds, were better at killing three common types of bacteria that infect humans, Stat News reported, citing a study in Nature.

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng was down 0.21% to 28,182.09. The Nikkei 225 declined 0.78% to 21,546.99. In Europe as of midday, the FTSE 100 added 0.60% to 7,618.39, and the Euronext 100 was up 0.94% to 1,053.54.

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