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Piramal to buy Mallinckrodt drug portfolio; GOP worries over ACA repeal

* Piramal Enterprises Ltd. is acquiring a portfolio of intrathecal spasticity and pain management drugs from Mallinckrodt Public Ltd. Co. The company will pay $171 million for the assets which include Gablofen and two pain management products under development.

* Merck & Co. Inc.'s Keytruda has shown promising results in treating bladder cancer and a rare subtype of melanoma, researchers said at the European Cancer Congress. In three clinical trials, 19% of the 84 patients with the rare and frequently fatal mucosal melanoma responded to the immunotherapy, while 33% of patients with other forms of advanced melanoma responded to treatment.

* In closed-door meetings last week, Republicans in the U.S. Congress expressed "grave concerns" about President Donald Trump's push to repeal and replace the Obama administration's landmark Affordable Care Act, The New York Times wrote. With an ACA replacement yet to be formulated, GOP members are reportedly far from reaching agreement on healthcare policy and are also worried about the political perils that the repeal may cause.

* The Delhi High Court lifted an order preventing Ajanta Pharma Ltd. from producing Valif, its erectile dysfunction drug, the patent for which was held by Germany-based Bayer AG, The Economic Times reported. The court noted that Ajanta is still banned from selling the drug locally until a decision is reached in Bayer's civil lawsuit alleging infringement of its patent in the drug's ingredients.

Drug and product pipeline

* Lemtrada, the multiple sclerosis drug manufactured by Sanofi unit Sanofi Genzyme, is the most cost-effective treatment for the disease on the market, according to a new study released by the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review. Lemtrada, which was originally produced to treat leukemia, allows the body to create new and more functional cells but also increases the potential for fatal autoimmune conditions and certain cancers.

* Astellas Pharma Inc. and Ironwood Pharmaceuticals Inc. reported that the phase 3 trial of linaclotide for chronic constipation, conducted in Japan, met its primary endpoint. In the U.S., linaclotide is approved, and sold under the brand name Linzess, for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with constipation and chronic constipation.

* The U.S. FDA approved Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co. Ltd. unit Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s Latuda for the treatment of schizophrenia in adolescents aged 13 to 17 years. Latuda is also FDA-approved for adults with schizophrenia, major depressive episodes associated with bipolar I disorder as monotherapy and as adjunctive therapy with lithium or valproate.

* Suven Life Sciences Ltd. received a product patent from the U.S. corresponding to the new chemical entities for the treatment of disorders associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and attention deficient hyperactivity disorder. The patent is valid through 2034.

* Neuren Pharmaceuticals Ltd. completed its phase 2 clinical trial of trofinetide in pediatric patients with Rett syndrome. The company expects to receive top-line results from the trial in the second half of March and plans to engage potential commercial partners regarding the remaining development and commercialization of the drug.

Operational activity

* Aralez Pharmaceuticals Inc., two of its units, and Pozen Inc. sued Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., a unit of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., for infringement of four patents covering Yosprala, which is used to treat patients who need aspirin for secondary prevention of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events and who are at risk of developing aspirin-associated gastric ulcers. Teva is seeking FDA approval to market generic versions of Yosprala prior to the expiration of the identified patents.

* Vanc Pharmaceuticals Inc. CEO Arun Nayyar resigned. Bob Rai is replacing Nayyar on an interim basis.

* Novo Nordisk A/S and the University of Oxford entered a research collaboration focused on type 2 diabetes. The total investment from Novo Nordisk is expected to be about 1 billion Danish kroner over a period of 10 years.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 slid by 0.51% to 19,368.85. In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down by 0.76% to 7,129.75 and the Euronext 100 by 0.89% to 925.84.

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