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J&J prostate cancer drug scores FDA nod; Buffett's investment lifts Teva stocks

Top news

* The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Johnson & Johnson drug Erleada, or apalutamide, to treat men with nonmetastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer. Erleada is the first FDA-approved drug to treat prostate cancer patients whose cancer has not spread but continues to grow despite hormone therapy.

* Driven in part by wage growth and ever-increasing prescription drug prices, U.S. healthcare spending is expected to rise more rapidly over a decade than it did in the last eight years, according to projections by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Office of the Actuary.

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* Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.'s shares soared the most in two months following a disclosure by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. that it invested $357.7 million in the Israeli generic-drug maker during the fourth quarter of 2017, Bloomberg News reported.

* Incyte Corp. said fourth-quarter 2017 non-GAAP net income totaled $4.1 million, while full-year 2017 net income reached $131.3 million. Considering adjustments, the Wilmington, Del.-based drugmaker reported fourth-quarter 2017 GAAP net loss of $149.6 million, or a loss of 71 cents per share, compared to a net income of $8.9 million, or 5 cents per share, a year ago.

On the policy front

* Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was peppered with questions over funding cuts in President Donald Trump's fiscal-year 2019 budget proposal at a House hearing. But the double-digit percentage reduction proposed for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that has alarmed the public health community was not raised by members of the House Ways and Means Committee.

* Utah's House of Representatives approved, 39-31, a measure directing the state to develop a plan to import cheaper, wholesale prescription drugs from Canada and make them available for purchase by residents.

M&A and capital markets

* New Jersey-based Celgene Corp.'s board authorized a $5 billion share repurchase program.

* German conglomerate Siemens AG will structure the IPO of its Healthineers unit so that it will receive proceeds only from the listing, as the healthcare unit does not need a capital injection, insiders told Reuters. Siemens will sell no more than 20% of the division in the deal, anticipated for the end of March.

Drug and product pipeline

* Boston-based biotechnology company Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. said the phase 2 trial of VX-150 to treat pain following a type of foot surgery showed significant pain relief compared to placebo.

Operational activity

* Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. posted a year-over-year drop in reported net profit for the third fiscal quarter of 2018 to 3.65 billion Indian rupees from 14.72 billion rupees, due to a one-time tax payout.

* Biogen Inc. shares fell yesterday after the Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech company said at an investor conference that it will enroll a further 510 patients in trials of aducanumab, an Alzheimer's disease drug, the Financial Times wrote. The disclosure was made after Merck & Co. Inc. halted its clinical study for a rival drug, verubecestat, as it was unlikely to establish positive benefit-risk.

Our features

Competition to bite into Shire's hemophilia treatment sales: The Dublin-based biopharmaceutical company is bracing for a drop in sales of its bleeding disorder treatments as it faces greater competition.

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Other features

* Stocks of Genscript Biotech Corp., one of the first Chinese developers of CAR-T cell cancer therapies, has surged more than 500% since early June, when it reported promising results from early trials in multiple myeloma, a relatively rare form of blood cancer, Bloomberg News has a report.

* Dublin-based Horizon Pharma PLC is raising the price of its painkiller drug Vimovo by 9.9% to almost $3,000 per bottle, in another instance of price gouging in the U.S. market, the FT reported. The company has continually raised the cost of the treatment since it acquired the U.S. rights to the drug from AstraZeneca PLC in November 2013.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng grew 1.97% to 31,115.43, and the Nikkei 225 was up 1.47% to 21,464.98.

In Europe, as of midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.58% to 7,255.48, and the Euronext 100 had climbed 1.02% to 1,011.90.

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