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Pfizer Q3 profit beats consensus; AstraZeneca to offload rights to 2 drugs

Top news

* U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. reported a 16% increase in third-quarter adjusted earnings to 78 cents a share and narrowed its 2018 adjusted EPS forecast to a range of $2.98 to $3.02 compared to $2.95 to $3.05, announced previously. That compares to the S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus normalized EPS estimate of 75 cents for the quarter.

* AstraZeneca PLC agreed to sell certain rights to therapies Nexium and Vimovo to Germany-based pharmaceutical company Grünenthal for a combined $815 million up front. Nexium reduces stomach acid and is used to treat gastrointestinal problems, while Vimovo is indicated to relieve symptoms of arthritis in patients at a risk of developing ulcers.

* Dublin-based drugmaker Allergan PLC said third-quarter adjusted EPS rose to $4.25 per share from $4.15 per share last year. The Dublin-based Botox-maker's non-GAAP net income for the quarter totaled $1.45 billion, down from $1.47 billion, in 2017.

* Wilmington, Del.-based Incyte Corp.'s third-quarter adjusted profit rose to 38 cents a share from 19 cents a share last year, but fell short of the S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus normalized EPS estimate of 40 cents. The maker of the drug Jakafi said adjusted net income for the quarter rose to $82.6 million from $41.1 million a year earlier.

* Greenfield, Ind.-based Elanco Animal Health Inc., which was recently spun-off from Eli Lilly and Co., appointed Todd Young as executive vice president and CFO, starting Nov 1. Young, who will replace acting CFO Lucas Montarce, previously worked as executive vice president and CFO at ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc.

* The consumer arm of Johnson & Johnson, the world's largest pharmaceutical company, has committed to a global effort to reduce plastic waste, signing an Ellen MacArthur Foundation-led pledge to use only reusable, recycled or composted plastic by 2025.

* The death toll associated with the viral outbreak at New Jersey's Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation reached nine children, Reuters reported citing state officials.

On the policy front

* A subscription-based payment model for expensive hepatitis C virus medicines may improve access to the drugs, while also reducing costs for cash-strapped state programs and other payers grappling with how to treat a large volume of patients without going bankrupt, Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La. and two health experts said.

* A U.S. National Institutes of Health institution said it is pausing a clinical study testing a stem cell therapy treatment among patients with heart failure following reports of retraction of certain journal articles related to the therapy. Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital previously recommended that 31 papers from controversial stem cell researcher Piero Anversa should be retracted from medical journals, Stat reported.

M&A and capital markets

* Santa Clara, Calif.-based Agilent Technologies Inc. has sent a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission to correct misstatements it says were made by DNA-based technology developer Twist Bioscience Corp. in a recent IPO filing.

Drug and product pipeline

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* New Haven, Conn.-based Melinta Therapeutics Inc. said a phase 3 study of Baxdela, which treats a certain type of pneumonia, showed improvement in symptoms such as chest pain and cough at 96 hours after the first dose. The clinical trial compared Baxdela, also known as delafloxacin, to moxifloxacin in treating adult patients with community-acquired bacterial pneumonia, one of the most common infectious diseases.

* Newton, Mass.-based Acer Therapeutics Inc. said it is seeking U.S. approval for its medicine Edsivo, or celiprolol, to treat an inherited disorder known as vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

* Danish drugmaker Genmab A/S said that its medicine Darzalex, when combined with standard of care treatment, helped certain blood cancer patients live longer in a late-stage study.

Operational activity

* UCB SA booked a 3% rise in its revenue for the first nine months of 2018 and it confirmed its outlook for the full year. The Brussels-based drugmaker's revenue for January to September 2018 was €3.44 billion, up from €3.33 billion during the same period last year.

* Japanese drugmaker Kyowa Hakko Kirin Co. Ltd. said its profit attributable to owners of the parent for the nine months ended Sept. 30 was ¥86.53 per share, a gain of 60.9% from ¥53.78 per share in the prior-year period.

* German healthcare group Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA said third-quarter earnings grew 7.7% year over year. Net income attributable to the company before special items totaled €445.0 million from €413.0 million in the prior-year period.

* ProQR Therapeutics NV said it entered an agreement to receive an exclusive worldwide license for gene-based therapy QR-1123 from Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc. Under the agreement, ProQR will pay Ionis upfront in form of $2.5 million worth of its ordinary shares priced at $22.23 per share along with future milestone payments in cash and equity as well as sales-based royalties.

* Bioasis Technologies Inc. has agreed to provide Prothena Corp. PLC with certain rights to use a drug delivery technology for neuroscience targets, in a licensing deal worth $1 million upfront and up to an additional $33 million in milestone payments.

* Rigel Pharmaceuticals Inc. agreed to sell exclusive rights for its blood disorder drug Tavalisse to Japan's Kissei Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. in a deal worth $33 million up front, plus up to $147 million in potential development and commercial milestone payments.

* A Pfizer unit has filed a lawsuit alleging that Dublin-based Perrigo Co. PLC's proposed generic version of the fungal infection medicine Kerydin infringes certain of its U.S. patents.

* Avalon GloboCare Corp. unit Avactis Biosciences Inc. is planning a joint venture with Arbele Ltd. that will be focused on CAR-T/CAR-NK/TCR-T/universal cellular immunotherapy in China.

Other features

* Regional hospitals across the U.S. are offering their services to help enroll patients in clinical trials for pharmaceutical companies, earning a handsome profit in return, Bloomberg News reports.

* Swiss drugmakers such as Roche Holding AG, Novartis AG and Molecular Partners AG are developing new eye drugs as current market leaders Lucentis and Eylea start nearing their patent expiration as treatments for age-related macular degeneration, which causes blindness in older people, Reuters reported.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, Hang Seng fell 0.91% to 24,585.53, while the Nikkei 225 gained 1.45% to 21,457.29.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 rose 0.14% to 7,036.24, and the Euronext 100 lost 0.34% to 965.31.

Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

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