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J&J ups outlook as Q3 profit rises; Trump seeks drug price disclosure in ads

Top news

* Johnson & Johnson, the world's biggest healthcare company by market value, reported third-quarter EPS of $2.05, up 7.9% from the year-earlier period. That compares to the S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus normalized EPS estimate of $2.03. J&J raised its adjusted EPS guidance for full year 2018 to between $8.13 and $8.18 from the previous outlook of between $8.07 and $8.17.

* The Trump administration proposed requiring drugmakers to include the list prices of their medicines in television advertisements aimed at consumers. Under the proposal, brand-name biopharmaceutical manufacturers must include in broadcast ads the list price for a 30-day supply of any medicine whose cost is over $35 and is covered by the federal government's Medicare program for seniors and the disabled and Medicaid, which covers the poor.

* The World Health Organization's Emergency Committee will convene Oct. 17 to decide whether the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO's director general, said in a tweet. According to the organization's website, the Ebola outbreak in the North Kivu province has already resulted in 139 deaths, as the rate of new infections accelerates in the past week.

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On the policy front

* New data from the Arkansas Department of Human Services shows that over 4,000 more people have lost their Medicaid eligibility until 2019 due to the state's controversial work requirements program, bringing the total number of people who have lost coverage to 8,462.

* Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is developing technology- and disease-specific regulatory frameworks for innovations that may not have previously had a clear development pathway. The agency's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research has approved 45 novel drugs and biologics — close to last year's total of 46, the most approved in more than two decades, Gottlieb noted.

M&A and capital markets

* Mumbai, India-based Piramal Enterprises Ltd. has tapped advisers to gauge interest in the company's contract pharmaceutical business, Bloomberg News reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter. The business, known as Piramal Pharma Solutions, could rake in about $1 billion.

* India's Dr. Reddy's Laboratories Ltd. agreed to sell its active pharmaceutical ingredients manufacturing unit in Jeedimetla, Hyderabad, to Therapiva Pvt. Ltd. The transaction, financial terms of which were not disclosed, is part of Dr. Reddy's efforts to streamline manufacturing operations and improve cost structures, according to a news release.

* Emergent BioSolutions Inc. completed the acquisition of Adapt Pharma Ltd., the maker of emergency opioid overdose treatment Narcan. The deal has a total consideration of up to $735 million.

* Cancer therapy developer Allogene Therapeutics Inc. closed its IPO of 20,700,000 of its common shares at $18 apiece for gross proceeds of about $372.6 million.

* Knol Resources Corp. and Pivot Pharmaceuticals Inc. will undergo a reverse takeover that will see Pivot's non-U.S. cannabis assets transferred and spun out to Knol.

Drug and product pipeline

* U.S. pricing watchdog Institute for Clinical and Economic Review is considering offering a new service to drugmakers to evaluate clinical trials before an official drug launch, though no official decision has been made, an institute spokesperson confirmed in an email.

* Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Sanofi said two late-stage studies of Dupixent met the same main goal of improving nasal congestion and obstruction in patients with inadequately controlled chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps, an allergy-related inflammatory condition.

* EyePoint Pharmaceuticals Inc. said the U.S. FDA approved its Yutiq implant to treat chronic noninfectious uveitis affecting the posterior segment of the eye. Uveitis is the inflammation of the uvea — the pigmented layer of the eye.

* AstraZeneca PLC said the U.S. FDA granted orphan-drug status to its drug Lynparza for pancreatic cancer. The U.K.-based drugmaker is developing Lynparza, also known as olaparib, with Merck & Co. Inc.

Operational activity

* Switzerland's Roche Holding AG and Watertown, Mass.-based SQZ Biotechnologies Co. are expanding their cell therapy collaboration, under which the companies will jointly develop and commercialize certain products based on antigen presenting cells for the treatment of cancer. Roche will make an up-front payment of up to $125 million and near-term milestones; up to $250 million in clinical, regulatory and sales milestones per product; and over $1 billion in development milestone payments.

* Abbott Laboratories appointed Robert Ford, who oversaw the integration of St. Jude Medical with the Abbott Park, Ill.-based medical device maker, as its president and COO. With a career spanning 22 years at the company, Ford was most recently leading Abbott's Medical Devices segment before being elevated to the role.

* Aclaris Therapeutics Inc. agreed to buy worldwide rights for skin treatment Rhofade from Dublin, Ireland-based Allergan PLC for $65 million in up-front cash. Rhofade was approved by the U.S. FDA in 2017 to treat persistent redness associated with the skin condition rosacea in adults.

* AstraZeneca Chairman Leif Johansson said the U.K.'s second-largest drugmaker has stopped investing in the country, 6 months ahead of the Brexit deadline. AstraZeneca spokesperson Gonzalo Vina said Johansson was referring to investment in manufacturing, which has been put on hold until the ramifications of Brexit are clearly understood. "Above all, Brexit has been such a waste of energy," Johansson told French newspaper Le Monde. "I spend between a fifth and a quarter of my time on it."

The day ahead

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

In Asia, Hang Seng gained 0.07% to 25,462.26, while the Nikkei 225 rose 1.25% to 22,549.24.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 shed 0.30% to 7,008.24, and the Euronext 100 rose 0.44% to 992.65.

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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