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Softer Q3 pharma earnings; another Lilly drug approved for migraines in US

Top news

* As pressures mount for the pharmaceutical industry, analysts are expecting more modest earnings from the largest drugmakers in the third quarter, particularly from those in the U.S., S&P Global Market Intelligence reports.

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* The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Eli Lilly and Co.'s medicine Reyvow for the acute treatment of migraine in adults, with or without aura. This is the Indianapolis-based company's second migraine therapy after Emgality to be approved by the U.S. regulator in about a year.

* A U.S. bankruptcy court paused opioid lawsuits against Purdue Pharma LP and its owners until Nov. 6, as the company tries to bring opposing states onboard in a settlement worth over $10 billion, Reuters reported. Purdue — which faces more than 2,600 lawsuits for allegedly fueling the U.S. opioid crisis — hopes that over the coming weeks it can convince about 24 states to extend the stay on lawsuits to six months.

* The Democratic Republic of Congo will deploy Johnson & Johnson's Ebola vaccine in November after shying away from its use to counter the disease that has killed over 2,100 people since the epidemic began in August 2018, Reuters reported. The African nation had been using Merck & Co. Inc.'s vaccine to avoid confusion that may arise as a result of using different vaccine regimens to combat the outbreak — which has been declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization.

On the policy front

* If House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's legislation aimed at lowering drug prices is enacted, it would trigger a "nuclear winter" for the U.S. biopharmaceutical ecosystem, Stephen Ubl, president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said last week. The Congressional Budget Office, however, noted that if the bill, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3), becomes law it would save the Medicare program $345 billion between 2023 and 2029.

* A panel of federal appeals court judges seemed skeptical that Medicaid work requirement waivers in Kentucky and Arkansas uphold the principles of the Medicaid program. At the heart of the panel's questioning is whether U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar adequately considered the impact that Medicaid work requirements would have on beneficiaries.

M&A and capital markets

* Aggregate M&A deal value for the healthcare industry dropped to $20 billion in the third quarter of 2019, the lowest recorded for the period in at least the last five years, data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence showed.

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* Allergan PLC shareholders are expected to vote Oct. 14 on whether to approve the Irish company's $84.2 billion acquisition by AbbVie Inc. The combined company would be the fifth-largest drugmaker in the world if it secures the required shareholder and regulatory approvals.

* Chinese vaccine-maker CanSino Biologics Inc. is planning to list on Shanghai's Starboard Exchange, Bloomberg News reported. Starboard is seen as China's answer to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, where CanSino listed a few months ago. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange relaxed rules for pre-revenue companies to list.

* Liver disease therapy developer 89bio Inc. is planning to raise up to $70 million in a Nasdaq IPO.

* Galera Therapeutics, Inc. is looking to raise up to $86.3 million in a Nasdaq IPO. The Malvern, Pa.-based company's lead product candidate GC4419 is a potential therapy to reduce severe oral mucositis, a side effect of radiotherapy in patients with head and neck cancer.

Drug and product pipeline

* U.S. drug pricing watchdog the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review reversed its previous determination that AbbVie's rheumatoid arthritis drug Rinvoq was not cost-effective in treating the disease compared to the company's blockbuster medicine Humira.

* Incyte Corp. said its ruxolitinib cream improved repigmentation in patients with a type of skin disease called vitiligo. There are no approved treatments for vitiligo in the U.S. and Europe.

* Lilly said its psoriasis drug Taltz reduced red patches and itchiness in patients aged six to 18 in a phase 3 clinical trial.

Operational activity

* India's Torrent Pharmaceuticals Ltd. is expanding the voluntary recall of certain high blood pressure medications from the U.S. after a potential cancer impurity called N-Methylnitrosobutyric acid was found in them.

* LaSalle Investment Management Inc. bought an undisclosed stake in Illumina Inc.'s global headquarters and life sciences campus in the University Town Center submarket of San Diego. The investment manager paid $299 million to urban office real estate investment trust Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc. for a 49% interest in the property.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng advanced 0.81% to 26,521.85.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 slipped 0.54% to 7,208.26, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.79% to 1,085.52.

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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