* Lonza Group Ltd. is close to reaching a deal to acquire New Jersey-based drugmaker Capsugel Inc. from private equity firm KKR & Co. for more than $5 billion, insiders told The Wall Street Journal.
* Sanofi plans to reduce the number of staff at its U.S. diabetes division by 20%, owing to competition in various product markets and a restrictive U.S. reimbursement policy, French investment news website boursier.com quoted the company as saying. The cuts will mainly affect the sales force and support divisions of the unit.
* According to the New England Journal of Medicine, Pfizer Inc. unit Hospira Inc. and Kaleo Inc. inflated the price of life-saving opioid overdose drug naloxone in recent years, with Hospira selling its 10-pack naloxone for $142.49 this year, more than double its $62.29 price tag in 2012, and Kaleo raising the price of two injections of naloxone to $4,500 this year from $690 in 2014, Reuters reported. Ravi Gupta, co-author of the opinion piece, called on the U.S. government to help ensure the affordability of naloxone, which is largely supplied by the two pharma companies.
* The American Diabetes Association and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists are set to publish fresh diabetes treatment guidelines to include the expanded health benefits of Eli Lilly & Co.'s diabetes drug Jardiance, which was found to prevent fatal heart attacks and strokes in type 2 diabetes patients, Reuters wrote. The updated guidelines are expected to boost Jardiance's sales.
* Moody's said Indian pharma companies are expected to make foreign acquisitions in the next 18 to 24 months to expand their geographic and product diversity and further extend their presence in developed and emerging markets.
M&A and capital markets
* Shuttle Pharmaceuticals LLC is launching an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange via the sale of 4,500,000 common shares at a fixed price of $8.00 each.
* Astellas Pharma Inc. unit Astellas Pharma Europe Ltd. entered into a definitive agreement to transfer the exclusive rights for Qutenza in Europe, the Middle East and Africa to Grünenthal. Qutenza is intended for the treatment of peripheral neuropathic pain in adults.
* Walvax Biotechnology Co. Ltd. will sell its 31.65% and 21% stakes in Hebei Daan Pharmaceuticals and Guangdong Wellen Biological Pharmaceutical, respectively, for 452.7 million Chinese yuan and 110 million yuan, Shanghai Securities News reported. Currently, the company owns 45.65% of Hebei Daan Pharmaceutical and 21% of Guangdong Wellen Biological Pharmaceutical.
Drug and product pipeline
* Biogen Inc. and development partner AbbVie Inc. received Health Canada's approval for Zinbryta, a subcutaneous treatment for adult patients with multiple sclerosis.
* Novartis AG said the phase 3 study of LEE011 plus letrozole significantly prolonged progression-free survival in certain groups of patients with breast cancer.
* Novartis and Ophthotech Corp.'s joint phase 3 clinical trial of Fovista with Lucentis, an anti-vascular endothelial growth factor drug, missed its primary endpoint of change in visual acuity at 12 months for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration, a cause of vision loss.
* The U.S. FDA granted priority review status to AstraZeneca PLC's bladder cancer candidate durvalumab, which is developed with the company's biologics R&D arm MedImmune. A decision on the approval is scheduled for the second quarter of 2017.
* Natco Pharma Ltd. is launching the first generic equivalent of Roche Holding Ltd.'s Tamiflu oral capsules in the U.S. market through its marketing partner Alvogen. Tamiflu is a prescription medicine for the treatment of influenza.
* A phase 3 trial of Synergy Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s plecanatide showed statistical significance compared to placebo in the percentage of patients who saw a reduction in abdominal pain and an increase of complete spontaneous bowel movement. Plecanatide's efficacy and safety is being evaluated in two phase 3 trials for the treatment of adult patients with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation.
* Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp. said a new study showed its drug edaravone may provide a treatment option for Lou Gehrig's disease. The trial found that patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, treated intravenously with edaravone in 10- to 14-day cycles for 48 weeks showed significant reductions in functional loss.
* Daiichi Sankyo Co. Ltd. and Maruishi Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. jointly launched a generic version of the analgesic Remifentanil for general anesthesia. Maruishi Pharmaceutical will manufacture the drug and Daiichi Sankyo will be responsible for marketing.
* Bayer AG is facing a legal complaint from women in France who have used Essure, the company's contraceptive implant, after experiencing side effects, Reuters reported. The company had already received thousands of complaints about Essure in the U.S. in March.
* Nitto Denko Corp. plans to double production capacity of nucleic acid medicine by June next year, targeting medical product sales of 50 billion Japanese yen, twice the current level, by 2019, Hideo Takasaki, the company's president, told The Nikkei. Nitto Denko has a 60% global share in contracted production of nucleic acid drugs.
* Shanghai Haohai Biological Technology Co. Ltd. named Tang Minjie CFO, with effect from Dec. 9.
* Esperion Therapeutics Inc. said Roger Newton retired from his executive chairman and chief scientific officer roles as of Dec. 8.
* AngioSoma Inc. appointed Ken Stephenson CEO and president. AngioSoma also named Alexanderia Blankenship COO and executive vice president.
* C-Rad AB named Therése Björklund CFO. Björklund has been serving as interim CFO since October when she replaced Erling Tomasson, who was released from his duties.
* Ipsen said Claude Bertrand, its chief scientific officer, will step down Jan. 2, 2017, after seven years in the job. Alexandre Lebeaut will lead the R&D division in the interim, pending Bertrand's replacement.
* Proteostasis Therapeutics Inc. said Biogen Idec New Ventures Inc. terminated their collaborative research, development, commercialization and license agreement for products that attack toxic proteins involved in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
* Parnell Pharmaceuticals Holdings Ltd. intends to move from the Nasdaq OMX Global Market to the OTC Pink Open Market to cut costs.
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