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Lonza in $5.5B deal to buy Capsugel; US Senate cracks down on Pfizer pricing

* Lonza Group Ltd. entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Capsugel Inc. from KKR & Co. LP for $5.5 billion cash, including refinancing of existing Capsugel debt of about $2 billion. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2017.

* The U.S. Senate Aging Committee asked Pfizer Inc. to explain in detail the price increases of naloxone, a generic drug used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose, taken by its Hospira unit between 2009 and 2014. The price of a set of 10 vials of the drug rose almost 600% to about $264 in early 2014 from $45 in 2009 before settling at about $190; although Pfizer defended the pricing of the drug as reasonable.

* Meanwhile, Sanofi, which is reportedly in talks to acquire Actelion Pharmaceuticals Ltd., could struggle to reach a deal due to disagreements over the price and structure of the transaction, just like Johnson & Johnson, which recently backed out from deal talks, insiders told The Wall Street Journal.

* Heritage Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s former CEO Jeffrey Glazer and former President Jason Malek plan to plead guilty in a price fixing case that could lead to charges against executives at other generic drugmakers, Bloomberg News reports.

M&A and capital markets

* Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. CEO Joseph Papa suggested the company may no longer be interested in selling its gastrointestinal diseases business under Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd. and may instead invest in the "core asset," the Financial Post reports.

* Hologic Inc. is selling its share in its blood screening unit to Grifols SA for gross proceeds of $1.85 billion in cash. Grifols will finance the deal, expected to close in the first quarter of 2017, with a $1.70 billion term loan and existing cash on the balance sheet.

* The Competition Bureau of Canada allowed McKesson Corp. to proceed with its acquisition of Rexall Health.

* TiGenix NV priced its U.S. IPO at $15.50 per American depository share for gross proceeds of $35.7 million.

* Third Rock Ventures LLC launched Goldfinch Bio with $55 million in series A funding to invest in precision therapies for patients with kidney diseases.

Drug and product pipeline

* Pfizer and Astellas Pharma Inc.'s Xtandi treatment for prostate cancer did not meet its primary endpoint in a phase 4 study to determine its efficacy when combined with abiraterone acetate and prednisone.

* The U.S. FDA, meanwhile, approved Pfizer's Eucrisa ointment to treat mild to moderate eczema, a chronic inflammatory skin disease, in patients two years of age and above.

* The European Commission granted conditional approval to Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s Ocaliva for the treatment of primary biliary cholangitis, a rare liver disease.

* Sihuan Pharmaceutical Holdings Group Ltd. secured Chinese regulatory approval to commence clinical trials of Fadanafil for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia-induced lower urinary tract symptoms and erectile dysfunction.

* CytomX Therapeutics Inc.'s investigational new drug application for CX-072 was approved by the U.S. FDA, prompting the company to plan a clinical study of the cancer treatment. The U.S. FDA also approved PCI Biotech Holding ASA's investigational new drug application for Fimaporfin for the treatment of inoperable bile duct cancer.

* Kyowa Hakko Kirin Co. Ltd.'s Istradefylline treatment for Parkinson's failed a phase 3 trial.

Operational activity

* Orion Corp. entered into a strategic collaboration with the Wisconsin Technology Innovation Initiative to develop new medicines for oncological diseases.

* Takara Bio Inc. is partnering with Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. to advance its HF10 therapy for the treatment of pancreatic cancer, melanoma and other tumors. Meanwhile, a Takara Bio subsidiary plans to acquire Rubicon Genomics Inc. in early January 2017 for $75 million, Reuters said.

* Aimmune Therapeutics Inc. CFO Warren DeSouza will leave the company April 16, 2017, to pursue other opportunities.

* IntelGenx Technologies Corp. and RedHill Biopharma Ltd. engaged Pharmatronic Co. to commercialize their Rizaport treatment in South Korea.

* Syndax Pharmaceuticals Inc. entered an agreement with the U.S. National Cancer Institute to advance its Entinostat and SNDX-6352 cancer treatments. The cooperative research and development agreement provides Syndax with the required facilities to conduct preclinical and clinical research of the treatments.

* UCB SA said Evelyn du Monceau will become chair of the board in April 2017. She will replace Gerhard Mayr, who will have reached the statutory age limit.

* Brazil's Ministry of Health placed a $24 million order for alfataliglicerase with Protalix BioTherapeutics Inc. to treat Gaucher patients in the country.

* RTI Surgical Inc. named Robert Jordheim interim CEO, succeeding Brian Hutchison, who plans to retire from his position as president and CEO.

* Dawnrays Pharmaceutical Holdings Ltd. is establishing a joint venture with Akeso Biopharma Inc. to finance the clinical trials of two drugs: AK102 to lower cholesterol and AK109 to primarily treat gastric cancer, lung cancer and rectal cancer, Zhitong Finance reports.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng fell 1.77% to 22,059.40, and the Nikkei 225 was up 0.10% to 19,273.79.

In Europe as of midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.24% to 6,965.82, and the Euronext 100 rose 0.52% to 920.65.

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