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Teva off Israel's top stock spot; Merck CEO resigns from White House council

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Teva off Israel's top stock spot; Merck CEO resigns from White House council

* Merck & Co. Inc. Chairman and CEO Kenneth Frazier said he resigned from President Donald Trump's White House manufacturing council, citing a "matter of personal conscience" and a "responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism," after Trump faced criticism for not specifically calling out white supremacists and neo-Nazis for the violence in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12, which led to the death of a 32-year-old woman.

* An article in The Wall Street Journal talks about the stock price "whiplash" investors have experienced from companies that disclose initial results from drug trials and wait until later to discuss the full details. The publication highlights, among others, Roche Holding AG's Aphinity trial, wherein the company first announced that breast cancer drug Perjeta showed prolonged patient survival, but later disclosed details on the treatment benefit that some doctors described as marginal.

* Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.'s market capitalization dropped to $17.6 billion yesterday, kicking the pharma company off the top spot in Israel's corporate hierarchy for the first time in 15 years, and being replaced by Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., Bloomberg News noted. The drugmaker has lost two-thirds of its market value in a year.

M&A and capital markets

* In separate clarification notices to the Hong Kong stock exchange regarding their bids for a stake in U.S. drugmaker Arbor Pharmaceuticals LLC, Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical (Group) Co. Ltd. and Shanghai Pharmaceuticals Holding Co. Ltd. said that as the bidding process was still ongoing on a nonexclusive basis, the detailed financial terms, including the amount of equity interest sought, could not be disclosed.

* PuraPharm Corp. Ltd., through its Japanese unit, signed a share purchase agreement to acquire health food manufacturer and seller SODX Co. Ltd. in a deal worth ¥244 million.

* Cancer Genetics Inc. agreed to acquire vivoPharm Pty. Ltd., a contract research organization that provides preclinical oncology and immuno-oncology services, for about $12 million.

* Cerecor Inc. sold all rights for CERC-501 to Johnson & Johnson's Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. for initial gross proceeds of $25 million. CERC-501 is an oral kappa opioid receptor antagonist being developed to treat major depressive disorder and substance use disorders.

* Zealand Pharma A/S completed its IPO of American depositary shares and registered a capital increase of 4,375,000 new shares with a nominal value of 1 Danish kroner each. Gross total proceeds from the issuance of the new shares amount to about 492.5 million kroner.

Drug and product pipeline

* The U.S. FDA lifted the full clinical hold on the phase 3 head and neck cancer trial for CEL-SCI Corp.'s Multikine. The trial had been placed on partial clinical hold in September 2016 after the regulator identified deficiencies in the study, including a significant risk of illness or injury to human subjects.

* Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s suptavumab failed to meet its primary endpoint of preventing respiratory syncytial virus infections in preterm infants in a phase 3 study. Regeneron plans to discontinue further clinical development for the treatment.

* Zynerba Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s ZYN002 missed its primary endpoint in a phase 2 trial evaluating the cannabidiol gel in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. The treatment had recently failed to meet its endpoint in a phase 2 trial in patients with epilepsy.

Operational activity

* Fortress Biotech Inc. set up a new subsidiary, Aevitas Therapeutics Inc., to develop novel gene therapy approaches for complement-mediated diseases. The technology can help lead to the potential treatment of atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome and paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng dropped 0.28% to 27,174.96, while the Nikkei 225 gained 1.11% to 19,753.31.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 rose 0.48% to 7,389.17 and the Euronext 100 climbed 0.38% to 1,000.20.

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