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Trump dumps ACA subsidies; UK recommends Bristol-Myers' Opdivo

Top News

* The Trump administration will end so-called cost-sharing reduction payments made under the Affordable Care Act that help eligible low- and moderate-income Americans cover their out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs and doctor visits, according to the White House. This follows President Donald Trump signing an executive order aimed at unraveling portions of the ACA — a move that was faced with opposition by several medical and other organizations.

* The Wall Street Journal noted that Trump privately told at least one lawmaker that the payments may continue if a bipartisan healthcare deal led by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray D-Wash., is agreed upon. Lawmakers are close to reaching a final deal on the bipartisan discussions, insiders told the paper.

On the policy front

* The U.S. National Institutes of Health and 11 drugmakers are entering a five-year partnership as part of the former Vice President Joe Biden's Cancer Moonshot program to advance new cancer immunotherapy drugs. Among those that signed up for the $215 million collaboration are AbbVie Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., GlaxoSmithKline plc, Johnson & Johnson and Roche Holding AG.

* According to a report by the Office of Congressional Ethics, Rep. Chris Collins of New York may have violated federal law by sharing nonpublic information about Sydney-based Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd., where he serves as a board member, The New York Times wrote. The report also noted that Collins requested a meeting with the U.S. NIH to discuss clinical trial designs, another action that may have violated House conduct rules.

* Bristol Myers Squibb Ltd.'s Opdivo has been recommended to treat people with head and neck cancer by the U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence after the U.S. company agreed to a price cut and to provide further evidence as to the immunotherapy's effectiveness in squamous cell carcinoma.

M&A and capital markets

* Bayer AG is selling selected crop science businesses to German chemicals company BASF SE for €5.9 billion. The transaction is part of asset sales required by regulators to satisfy competition concerns on Bayer's planned $66 billion takeover of agricultural company Monsanto Co.

* China Biologic Products Holdings, Inc. will acquire PW Medtech Group Ltd.'s 80% equity interest in Tianxinfu (Beijing) Medical Appliance Co. Ltd. The transaction is expected to close this year.

Drug and product pipeline

* The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Cellular, Tissue and Gene Therapies Advisory Committee unanimously voted to endorse Spark Therapeutics Inc.'s experimental gene therapy Luxturna. The panel said Spark's clinical trial data demonstrated that Luxturna's benefits outweighed its risks in treating vision loss.

* The U.S. FDA granted priority review designation for Eli Lilly and Co.'s new drug application for Verzenio to treat breast cancer.

* The FDA also approved Pfizer Inc.'s Lyrica extended-release tablets to treat two nerve-related pain conditions: postherpetic neuralgia and neuropathic pain associated with diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

* A U.S. government-backed clinical trial in Liberia showed that two Ebola vaccine candidates were capable of eliciting an immune response after one month of initial vaccination that lasts for at least one year. The vaccine candidates included cAd3-EBOZ, co-developed by NIAID's Vaccine Research Center and GlaxoSmithKline; and rVSV-ZEBOV, which was initially engineered by scientists from the Public Health Agency of Canada and is now licensed to Merck & Co. Inc.

Operational activity

* Johnson & Johnson is requesting a new trial in relation to allegations that its talc powder causes ovarian cancer, citing jury misconduct in a $417 million verdict, Bloomberg News reported.

* Allergan plc granted Innopharma, Inc. licenses to market a generic version of Restasis in the U.S. as part of a settlement agreement with the company.

* Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. agreed not to sell a generic version of BioDelivery Sciences International Inc.'s opioid addiction treatment as part of a settlement to end a patent litigation against the company. Teva is barred from marketing a generic version of Bunavail until July 23, 2028.

* Ono Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. secured an exclusive license to develop and commercialize certain Karyopharm Therapeutics Inc. compounds for cancer in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Our features

Pfizer's potential consumer health sale could revive M&A ambitions: While Pfizer Inc. has made no decisions on the fate of its consumer health business just yet, analysts expect that a sale would clear the way for an acquisition down the road.

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Other features

* CNBC talks about large drugmakers hiring talent from top technology companies such as Google and Microsoft's LinkedIn in a drive to modernize the drugmaking process.

* FierceBiotech features a study by scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center who discovered potential biomarkers linked with the development of the toxic effects of cancer immunotherapy and created a method to avert the life-threatening side effects of CAR-T therapies.

* STAT News highlights a study that discusses a new process that could help treat children with retinoblastoma, a type of eye tumor.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng increased 0.06% to 28,476.43, and the Nikkei 225 increased 0.96% to 21,155.18.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.29% to 7,543.45, while the Euronext 100 was up 0.17% to 1,049.39.

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