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Novartis CEO discusses Roche stake; Switzerland's Galenica looks at split

* Novartis AG will sell its substantial stake in Roche Holding Ltd. when the timing is right, its CEO Joe Jimenez said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, according to Handelszeitung. Jimenez said Novartis shareholders would obtain the most value when it decides to sell the stake worth about CHF13 billion. Jimenez also said that he expected further pressure on drug prices in the U.S. market but the company was already adapting to outcomes-based pricing.

* Galenica Ltd., the owner of Switzerland's largest pharmacy network, is moving forward with its plan to split the group into two business units by the end of the year, Handelszeitung wrote. Galenica said the focus is to float Galenica Santé, its retail and services arm, on the SIX Swiss Exchange.

* Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., confronted questions on Capitol Hill about his stock trades in medical product companies, the new administration's plans for replacing the Affordable Care Act and the future of Medicare and Medicaid at a hearing on his nomination to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. The four-hour session, convened by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, was the first step toward Price's confirmation as Trump's HHS secretary.

* A coalition of governments and multinational organizations has pooled $460 million in initial funding to develop vaccines for some of the world's deadliest epidemic diseases. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, will initially focus on the development of two vaccines each for MERS-CoV, Lassa and Nipah viruses, each designated by the World Health Organization as disease priorities needing urgent R&D attention.

M&A and capital markets

* Braeburn Pharmaceuticals is selling 7,692,308 common shares in its IPO at an estimated price of between $18 and $21 apiece. The company has applied to list its common stock on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol BBRX.

* Heron Therapeutics Inc. commenced an underwritten public offering of $150 million of shares of its common stock.

* Teladoc Inc. priced a public offering of 6,650,000 shares offered by the company and 1.6 million shares offered by certain company stockholders, at a price of $16.75 per share.

* Australia's Cynata Therapeutics Ltd. executed a license option agreement with Japan's FUJIFILM Corp. to develop and commercialize certain Cynata technology. As part of the deal, FUJIFILM acquired a A$3.97 million strategic equity stake in Cynata through the purchase of 8,088,403 ordinary Cynata shares. After the transaction closes, FUJIFILM will hold a 10.01% stake in Cynata.

Drug and product pipeline

* The U.S. FDA approved Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.'s Vantrela for pain management.

* UCB SA's psoriasis drug Cimzia met the primary and several secondary endpoints in its third and final phase 3 trial. The drug is being co-developed by UCB and Dermira Inc. as part of an agreement in July 2014.

* Daiichi Sankyo Co. Ltd. launched a phase 1/2 study in Japan on U3-1402, a novel HER3-targeting antibody drug conjugate, in patients with HER3-positive metastatic or unresectable breast cancer who are refractory or intolerant to standard treatment, or for whom no standard treatment is available.

Operational activity

* Mallinckrodt Public Ltd. Co. reached a settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to resolve the latter's investigation into Questcor Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s acquisition of Synacthen Depot in 2013. Mallinckrodt did not admit any wrongdoing but agreed to pay $100 million to settle claims made by the FTC and certain U.S. states that it engaged in anticompetitive conduct with.

* Jazz Pharmaceuticals Public Ltd. Co. said it was considering legal action against the FDA's approval of Hikma Pharmaceuticals PLC unit Roxane Laboratories' generic version of Xyrem. Jazz previously filed lawsuits against those seeking approval for a generic version of the sleeping disorder drug.

* Pfizer Inc. unit Pfizer Ltd. entered into delegation of authority with AstraZeneca PLC's AstraZeneca Pharma India Ltd., under which Pfizer will be allowed to conduct certain activities in India in relation to identified injectable antibiotic products. Meronem IV injection, which is marketed in the country by AstraZeneca, is expected to be transitioned to Pfizer.

* Takeda Pharmaceutical and Ovid Therapeutics Inc. will collaborate to develop and commercialize Takeda's investigational new drug TAK-935, a novel CH24H inhibitor, in rare pediatric epilepsies.

* GlaxoSmithKline PLC appointed Luke Miels president of global pharmaceuticals. Miels, whose start date was not given, is AstraZeneca's executive vice president for Europe.

* Merrimack Pharmaceuticals Inc. named Richard Peters president and CEO, effective Feb. 6. Merrimack's interim president and CEO, Gary Crocker, will continue to serve as chairman of the board.

* Sosei Group Corp. appointed Andrew Oakley CFO, with effect Feb. 1, Reuters reported.

* Summit Therapeutics PLC named David Roblin COO and president of research and development.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng fell 0.21% to 23,049.96, and the Nikkei 225 was up 0.94% to 19,072.25.

In Europe, as of midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.48% to 7,212.65, and the Euronext 100 was up 0.02% to 933.71.

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