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EU agency's medicine approvals in 2018; AbbVie, Lupin team up on drug program

Top news

* The European Medicines Agency recommended 84 new medicines for marketing authorization in 2018 and initiated the review of a hypertension drug after finding traces of a potential cancer-causing compound.

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* AbbVie Inc. entered a partnership agreement to develop and commercialize India-based Lupin Ltd.'s Mucosa-Associated Lymphoid Tissue Lymphoma Translocation Protein 1, or MALT1, inhibitor program. MALT1 is a protein that activates certain types of white blood cells in the immune system, while MALT1 inhibitors are considered to be an effective potential treatment against cancers linked to aggressive white blood cells.

North Chicago-based AbbVie will pay $30 million up front for an exclusive license to the cancer drug program.

* Thailand's National Assembly approved a bill legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, the Financial Times reported. The bill also permits the possession of cannabis for research, agricultural, scientific and industrial uses, but not for recreational purposes.

M&A and capital markets

* Marlborough, Mass.-based Boston Scientific Corp. said it entered a new $2.75 billion revolving credit agreement as well as a $2 billion a term loan agreement to finance its £3.3 billion acquisition of BTG PLC. The credit facility will mature on Dec. 19, 2023, and the final tranche from the $2 billion loan will mature three years after the closing of the BTG acquisition.

* Telix Pharmaceuticals Ltd. completed its acquisition of Belgium-based Advanced Nuclear Medicine Ingredients SA in a cash and stock deal. Under the deal, Telix will make and an up-front payment of about €3.2 million in shares and €2 million in cash.

Advanced Nuclear develops radiopharmaceutical solutions, or compounds with radioactivity, which can be used to treat or diagnose diseases.

Operational activity

* Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.'s U.S. unit Dusa Pharmaceuticals Inc. was granted preliminary injunctive relief by a federal district court which prohibits Biofrontera and certain units of the company from using Dusa's trade secret information.

In July, Dusa sued Biofrontera for allegedly infringing on its patents for its Levulan Kerastick topical medication used with Blu-U blue light photodynamic therapy illuminator to treat minimally to moderately thick actinic keratosis of the face or scalp. Biofrontera then responded with a counterclaim, filing unfair competition and tortious interference claims against the Sun Pharma unit.

Our features

Of Mice Not Men: Tracking mosquito viruses; CRISPR-ing obesity and tumors: In this week's column, scientists looked to mosquitoes' stomachs to track the transmission of viruses, an Alzheimer's protein was found in contaminated brain tissue extracts, and CRISPR mitigated obesity and chemotherapy resistance in mice.

Other features

* Reuters writes about how New Jersey health officials recommended blood tests for over 3,700 former patients of a surgical facility because of a possible exposure to HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Reuters also has a feature about how taking patients off opioids abruptly may do harm than good.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, Nikkei 225 increased 0.89% to 19,327.06. (Hang Seng closed)

Most European Markets are closed as of Dec. 26.

Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

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