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Trump to detail US drug pricing plans; Roche drug cuts death risk in lung cancer

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Banking Essentials Newsletter - February Edition


Trump to detail US drug pricing plans; Roche drug cuts death risk in lung cancer

Top news

* President Donald Trump said he plans to roll out a detailed plan next month to lower U.S. drug prices. In a speech in New Hampshire yesterday, he said part of the administration's effort to reduce drug costs included making medication-assisted treatments for opioid addiction more affordable by taking steps to increase competition.

In the same speech, Trump said he plans to take "tough" measures to fight the opioid epidemic, like seeking the death penalty for traffickers, building a border wall to keep illicit substances out of the U.S., suing biopharmaceutical makers and launching television commercials aimed at scaring young people from trying the drugs.

Meanwhile, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar also credited Trump for the highest ever generic drug approvals achieved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2017. Azar said the "slate" of proposals the administration plans to roll out next month would include an effort to ensure that seniors share in the discounts that pharmacy benefit managers receive from biopharmaceutical companies.

* Roche Holding AG said treating certain lung cancer patients with a combination of its immunotherapy Tecentriq and chemotherapy reduced the risk of their disease worsening or death — one of the main goals of a late-stage trial of the drug.

On the policy front

* The U.S. FDA published the clinical study report for Johnson & Johnson's cancer drug Erleada — the first participant under its pilot program, which aims to make drug approvals more transparent.

M&A and capital markets

* Arcus Biosciences Inc. closed its IPO of 8 million common shares priced at $15 apiece to raise $138 million in gross proceeds.

Drug and product pipeline

* Novo Nordisk A/S said its semaglutide injection caused adults with obesity to lose 13.8% of their body weight over the course of a year, compared to a 2.3% reduction in weight for those who took the placebo.

* AstraZeneca PLC's Farxiga reduced blood sugar levels in a phase 3 study of certain patients with type 2 diabetes and stage 3A chronic kidney disease. Farxiga reduced mean HbA1C, or glycated hemoglobin, levels by 0.37%, and reduced mean body weight by 3.17 kg.

* Heron Therapeutics Inc. said its treatment HTX-011 was better at reducing post-surgery pain when compared to the current standard-of-care local anesthetic in two separate late-stage studies.

* The U.S. FDA accepted a filing for expanded approval and granted priority review to an application for Pfizer Inc. and Astellas Pharma Inc.'s Xtandi, or enzalutamide. If approved, Xtandi's indication will expand to treat castration-resistant prostate cancer in patients who have not seen the disease spread to other parts of the body.

* Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s ulcerative colitis drug, etrasimod, produced positive results in a phase 2 study.

* Medicure Inc. said it was holding off on the launch Prexxartan, a treatment for hypertension and heart failure, due to a dispute with the third-party manufacturer of the product.

Operational activity

* Novartis AG unit Sandoz Canada Inc. agreed to collaborate with privately held Tilray Inc. to develop and distribute medical cannabis products in Canada.

The Swiss company is also collaborating with the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to work on biomaterial systems the drugmaker can use for its portfolio of immuno-oncology drugs.

Other features

* Biocon Ltd managing director Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw said in an interview with Bloomberg News that company's revenue in the biosimilars sector will reach $1 billion by 2025.

* The MIT Technology Review has a feature about how artificial intelligence is being used to diagnose Alzheimer's disease at an earlier stage.

* A majority of people in the U.S. have poor heart health, Reuters wrote in a feature. A larger number of people are also at risk for heart attacks and strokes compared to the previous generation.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng rose 0.11% to 31,549.93, while the Nikkei 225 dropped to 0.47% to 21,380.97.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 climbed 0.19% to 7,055.97 and the Euronext 100 increased to 0.22% to 1,021.43.

The Daily Dose is updated as of 6:30 a.m. ET. Some external links may require a subscription.