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Bristol-Myers to sell French unit; Eisai, Biogen Alzheimer's drug passes study

Top news

* Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. is selling UPSA SAS, its French over-the-counter drugs unit, in a deal that could bring the U.S. pharmaceutical giant about €1.5 billion, Reuters reported.

* Japan's Eisai Co. Ltd. and Cambridge, Mass.-based Biogen Inc. reported the final analysis of a phase 2 trial that showed that cognitive abilities of Alzheimer's patients receiving the highest dose of the medicine BAN2401 declined more slowly than those taking a placebo.

On the policy front

* Pharmacy benefit managers, including CVS Health Corp. and Express Scripts Holding Co., are pushing back against claims by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar that their industry has sought to block drugmakers from lowering their prices.

* The European Union's drug regulator is reviewing certain high blood pressure and heart medicines containing an active substance supplied by Chinese company Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. The European Medicines Agency's review was triggered after Zhejiang Huahai detected an impurity known as N-nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA — a substance that could cause cancer — in the active ingredient, valsartan, which it sells to some manufacturers producing medicines available in the EU.

* Talks have stalled between Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. and National Health Service England over a suitable price for cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi, PMLiVE reported.

M&A and capital markets

* U.K.'s Sinclair Pharma PLC said it received a takeover offer from China Grand Enterprises Inc. and its Huadong Medicine Co. Ltd unit. According to the pharmaceutical company, discussions are still at a very early stage with no certainty of an acquisition offer being made.

* Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. now owns 96.08% of voting rights in TiGenix NV after the closing of the second acceptance period in its public takeover bid. In January, the Japanese drugmaker entered into an agreement to acquire the Belgian biopharmaceutical company for about €520 million in cash.

Operational activity

* A U.S. district judge has reversed a $140 million verdict against AbbVie Inc. and ordered a new trial in a lawsuit brought by a patient who claims that the pharmaceutical giant's testosterone replacement drug AndroGel caused him to have a heart attack.

* Summit, N.J.-based Celgene Corp. settled patent litigation with privately held Accord Healthcare Ltd. for its blockbuster cancer therapy Revlimid, also known as lenalidomide. Accord Healthcare operates as a subsidiary of India's Intas Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

* Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. said it will move its U.S. headquarters from Pennsylvania to New Jersey, according to a news release. The Israeli drugmaker will likely get a $40 million package of tax breaks from the move, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

* Regulus Therapeutics Inc. said it paused certain clinical activities and will lay off about 60% of its workforce. The San Diego-based biopharmaceutical company halted recruitment activities for its RG-012, its potential treatment for Alport syndrome, as well as a phase 1 trial of RGLS4326, another kidney disease drug.

Other features

* AstraZeneca PLC is reaping benefits of its strategy, through lung cancer drugs Imfinzi and Tagrisso among others, of targeting cancer in the early stages to upstage rivals who have gained dominance in late-stage cancer treatment, Reuters reported.

* Privacy advocates have raised concerns with 23andMe Inc. and Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. offering their gene testing services to support the U.S. government's decision of using DNA tests to reunite separated migrant children with their families, Bloomberg News wrote.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng increased 0.47% to 28,315.62, and the Nikkei 225 rose 1.12% to 21,788.14.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.21% to 7,587.28, and the Euronext 100 was up 0.14% to 1,051.59.

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