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WHO eyes drug cost transparency; Celgene's Revlimid gets US nod for blood cancer

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WHO eyes drug cost transparency; Celgene's Revlimid gets US nod for blood cancer

Top news

* The World Health Organization adopted a resolution that urges member states to improve drug cost transparency by sharing more information on actual prices paid by governments and other buyers for health products.

* The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a combination therapy comprising Celgene Corp.'s Revlimid and Roche Holding AG's Rituxan to treat patients with follicular lymphoma and marginal zone lymphoma — two types of blood cancer — whose disease had returned or did not respond to treatment.

* In an interview with S&P Global Market Intelligence, Deloitte Life Sciences and Healthcare Strategy Principal Neal Batra discussed disruptions to the pharmaceutical business model and the democratization of healthcare through technology and data. When asked what the potential main disruptors in the healthcare industry are, Batra said: "It's the explosion of data, it's the interoperability of that data and it's the empowered consumer being the new regulator in this system."

* The opioid trial between Johnson & Johnson and the U.S. state of Oklahoma kicked off yesterday, The Wall Street Journal reported. The Oklahoma attorney general claimed in opening statements that greed drove the company to aggressively market their opioid painkillers. J&J's defense attorney said the drugs help people manage "soul stealing" chronic pain, and that the packaging on the company's products clearly stated the risks. The state is seeking that drugmakers such as J&J be held accountable for contributing to the opioid crisis in a case that will be tried by a single judge, without a jury.

* An Ebola health worker in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was killed by a mob, while the local Ebola response team's clinic was looted, Reuters reported. The attacks on Ebola treatment centers and its workers complicate efforts to put an end to the country's worst-ever outbreak.

* The World Health Organization reported two cases of "vaccine-derived" polio in the Central African Republic, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, WHO Africa Regional Director Matshidiso Moeti told Reuters that Africa could be declared free of endemic "wild" polio sometime early next year if a strain last seen in Nigeria in August 2016 does not return.

On the policy front

* New York state lawmakers heard arguments on setting up a single-payer healthcare system for its residents, the Journal wrote. Hospital groups said enacting a single-payer bill might lead to lower reimbursement rates, while insurers warned that there would be longer lines for specialist care services.

M&A and capital markets

* Tencent Holdings Ltd.-backed We Doctor Holdings Ltd. will arrange a pre-IPO placement for the entire unit before the end of this year, co-founder Zhang Xiaochun told S&P Global Market Intelligence. The online healthcare startup is estimated to be valued at around $10 billion by investment banks, Zhang said on the sidelines of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange Biotech Summit.

* Genmab A/S filed for a proposed public offering of its American depositary shares, with each ADS representing one-tenth of one ordinary share. The Danish biotechnology company, which is focused on developing differentiated antibody therapeutics to treat cancer, has applied to list the ADSs on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker GMAB.

Drug and product pipeline

* BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc.'s three-year data in hemophilia patients treated with its experimental gene therapy, Valrox, showed signs of reduced bleeding and stabilizing factor VIII levels, the company said. The data also suggested that the treatment effect could wane over time, though analysts were mixed in their opinions about the durability of the drug.

* The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review issued an evidence report on Aimmune Therapeutics Inc. and DBV Technologies SA's experimental peanut allergy treatments for children, finding that they have the potential to reduce the risk of a serious reaction.

* Canada's public health regulator has banned Allergan PLC's Biocell breast implants after a safety review found that there was an increased risk of cancer in patients who have the implants. Health Canada said in a May 28 recall alert that the rate of breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma is higher with Allergan's devices.

Operational activity

* Johnson & Johnson aims to introduce 17 startups to its incubator, called JLabs, in Shanghai in June, Sharon Chan, head of JLabs Shanghai told S&P Global Market Intelligence on the sidelines of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange Biotech Summit. The Shanghai incubator is the company's 12th JLabs site worldwide, and the first in the Asia-Pacific region.

* Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. reported net profit for the fiscal year ended March 31 of 26.65 billion Indian rupees, up 27.2% from 20.96 billion rupees a year earlier. EPS for the Mumbai-based maker of generic drugs was 11.11 rupees for the year, up from 8.73 rupees a year ago.

* Chinese traditional-drug maker Kangmei Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. admitted to using false documents and transaction records to overstate its cash holdings by 29.9 billion Chinese yuan, Bloomberg News reported, citing a filing by the company. The company's shares slumped 5%, the maximum allowed for Chinese stocks.

* Eli Lilly and Co. is acquiring exclusive worldwide rights to Centrexion Therapeutics Corp.'s non-opioid chronic pain drug candidate CNTX-0290 for $47.5 million up front plus potential development and commercial milestone payments.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, Hang Seng lost 0.57% to 27,235.71, while the Nikkei 225 dropped 1.21% to 21,003.37.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 shed 1.29% to 7,174.82, and the Euronext 100 declined 1.34% to 1,024.96.

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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