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'Medicare for all' projected at $32.6T; FDA approves Indivior schizophrenia drug

Top news

* According to a study by libertarian think tank the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the "Medicare for all" bill championed by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont would cost the federal government an additional $32.6 trillion over a decade, the Associated Press reported. A spokesman for Sanders told the AP that his office has not conducted a cost analysis.

* The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Indivior PLC's Perseris, a once-monthly injectable that contains risperidone, for adults with schizophrenia. Risperidone is an established treatment for schizophrenia, a serious mental disorder that affects a patient's thoughts, emotions and behavior.

On the policy front

* Republican lawmakers Greg Walden, Gregg Harper and Michael Burgess asked the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to examine how previous mergers by pharmacy benefit managers affected healthcare costs for consumers.

* Publicly traded companies in China involved in illegal acts that threaten public health or national security will face compulsory delisting, according to new criteria released by the China Securities Regulatory Commission late July 27.

The criteria, which revise regulations made in 2014, follows a vaccine scandal involving Shenzhen-listed Changsheng Bio-Technology Co. Ltd., whose unit Changchun Changsheng Life Sciences Ltd. was recently ordered to stop production of rabies vaccines for human use.

The scandal — sparked by Changsheng Bio-Technology Co., Ltd.'s alleged fabrication of production and inspection records related to the vaccines — prompted police in the northeastern Chinese city of Changchun to seek the arrest of 18 Changsheng staff, including Chairwoman Gao Junfang, Reuters reported.

* Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. has stopped production and started voluntary recalls of its valsartan blood and heart drug in foreign and local markets after it was found that the product contained N-nitrosodimethylamine, a substance that could cause cancer in humans, Xinhua News reported, citing a statement from China's State Drug Administration.

M&A and capital markets

* Chinese cancer therapy developer BeiGene Ltd. is planning an IPO of its shares in Hong Kong, in addition to its Nasdaq listing.

* Aquestive Therapeutics Inc., a Warren, N.J.-based specialty pharmaceutical company, closed its IPO for gross proceeds of $67.5 million.

Drug and product pipeline

* The European Medicines Agency recommended the approval of 16 new therapies this month, including AstraZeneca PLC's Imfinzi and Eli Lilly and Co.'s Verzenios. Imfinzi is indicated for use in treating non-small cell lung cancer, while Verzenios is used for treating breast cancer that is locally advanced or that has spread to other parts of the body.

* Merck & Co. Inc. said the EMA recommended the approval of blockbuster drug Keytruda, in combination with Lilly's Alimta and platinum chemotherapy, for the initial treatment of certain patients with non-small cell lung cancer. The EMA's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use also adopted a positive opinion for Keytruda as a single drug to treat certain patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

* The FDA rejected INSYS Therapeutics Inc.'s application to market a buprenorphine spray to treat moderate-to-severe acute pain. The company received a complete response letter from the regulator flagging potential safety concerns for the spray.

Operational activity

* Shionogi & Co. Ltd. said profit attributable to owners of parent for the fiscal first quarter totaled about ¥31.89 billion, or ¥99.95 per share, up from ¥16.01 billion, or ¥49.43 per share, in the prior-year period. For the year ending March 31, 2019, the Japanese drugmaker expects attributable profit to grow 5.2% on an annual basis, and reach ¥114.50 billion, or ¥364.24 per share.

* British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline PLC is shutting down its manufacturing operations in Bangladesh by the end of 2018, Reuters reported, citing a statement from Nakibur Rahman, the unit's managing director. GSK Bangladesh Ltd. will close the drugmaking factory but will retain the consumer healthcare business.

Our features

Big bonuses, stock awards help top pharma CEOs dominate 2017 salary chart: Pfizer Inc.'s Ian Read was the highest paid CEO in the U.S. pharmaceutical sector, followed by Alex Gorsky, the top executive of its larger rival, Johnson & Johnson.

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Merck & Co. looks to China amid continued US pricing pressure: Merck & Co. is relying on China and other markets outside the U.S. to offset the increasing pricing pressure at home as U.S. President Donald Trump calls for the pharma industry to bring down drug costs.

AbbVie seeks to head off Humira biosimilar impact with new drug launches: AbbVie Inc.'s Chairman and CEO Richard Gonzalez is not fazed by the upcoming entries of biosimilars for its flagship product Humira, the world's best-selling medicine.

Other features

* The New York Times highlighted the role of drug rebates in the high costs of medicines, and how insurers or employers benefit most from the system.

* The Financial Times featured University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and how CEO Jeffrey Romoff prepares for the "Amazon-ization" of healthcare, a future in which patients could access healthcare records, insurance and treatments online.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng was down 0.25% to 28,733.13. The Nikkei 225 slid 0.74% to 22,544.84.

In Europe as of midday, the FTSE 100 slipped 0.07% to 7,696.08, and the Euronext 100 lost 0.30% to 1,077.55.

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