* U.S. grocery chain Albertsons Cos. will acquire the remainder of Rite Aid Corp. that is not being sold to Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. The combined business is worth about $24 billion, including debt, according to The Wall Street Journal, and is expected to generate annual revenues of about $83 billion.
Its portfolio would include about 4,900 stores and 4,300 pharmacies across 38 states and Washington, D.C., with a concentration skewed to the coasts. The new group would have Rite Aid CEO John Standley as its chief executive and Albertsons CEO Bob Miller as chairman.
* Johnson & Johnson is looking to divest another one of its units, insiders told Bloomberg Technology. The New Jersey-based pharma giant hired an adviser to solicit bids for its sterilization products business, which could rake in as much as $2 billion.
On the policy front
* Merck & Co. Inc. CEO Kenneth Frazier told The New York Times that President Donald Trump's unwillingness to condemn white nationalists led the drug company chief to decide it was time to take a stand. Frazier was the first CEO to resign from the president's White House manufacturing council in the aftermath of violent protests in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017.
* Kentucky sued drug distributor Cardinal Health Inc. for helping fuel the opioid crisis by flooding the state with prescription opioids. The complaint accuses the Ohio-based company of using unfair, misleading and deceptive business practices for excessively distributing prescription painkillers.
M&A and capital markets
* Copenhagen-based DanDrit Biotech USA, Inc. completed its previously announced acquisition of Enochian Biopharma, Inc., a privately held, Los Angeles-based developer of technology platforms for treating HIV.
Drug & product pipeline
* Eli Lilly and Co. said its drug Taltz, also known as ixekizumab, reduced sexual difficulties caused by genital psoriasis in a phase 3b trial.
* U.K.-based Hikma Pharmaceuticals PLC's board of directors appointed Sigurdur Olafsson as CEO, effective immediately. Olafsson was most recently president and CEO of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd's global generic medicines group.
* Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. agreed to collaborate with WAVE Life Sciences Ltd. to jointly develop therapies for rare brain disorders, including Huntington's disease. Under the deal, Takeda will initially pay $110 million and buy $60 million of the U.S. company's ordinary shares for $54.70 per share.
* Biogen Inc. CEO Michel Vounatsos said the company's shares plunging nearly 7% after reports that it was enrolling additional patients in late-stage trials of aducanumab, an Alzheimer's disease drug, was an "overreaction of the market," The Wall Street Journal wrote. "It's very common that we have to increase the sample size, and we don't take that as a sign that influences whatsoever the outcome of the study," he added.
* Researchers are planning new trials to better understand why certain tumors treated with immunotherapy drugs showed a response even when doctors predicted the drugs would fail, The New York Times wrote.
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng dropped 0.78% to 30,873.63, while the Nikkei 225 dropped 1.01% to 21,925.10.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.11% to 7,240.23 and the Euronext 100 was down 0.03% to 1,016. 14.
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