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Johnson & Johnson still in race for Actelion; Allergan to buy LifeCell

* A report from the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging is calling on Congress to address drug price spikes, The New York Times reported. The report found that some pharmaceutical companies have acted like hedge funds due to the influence of activist investors, the paper said.

* Merger discussions between Sanofi and Actelion Ltd. are moving forward, despite investor uncertainty on whether Actelion CEO and founder Jean-Paul Clozel wants a deal, insiders told Reuters. The publication said continued refusal to negotiate a deal could lead to an "investor rebellion demanding the overthrow of its board." Johnson & Johnson, which dropped plans to bid for Actelion, could return to the negotiations with a counteroffer, Reuters said.

* Allergan PLC agreed to acquire regenerative medicine company LifeCell Corp. from Acelity LP Inc. for $2.90 billion in cash. Allergan expects the LifeCell assets to generate about $450 million in 2016 revenue, and it expects to close the deal in the first half of 2017.

M&A and capital markets

* Biogen Inc. shareholders approved the spinoff of the company's hemophilia unit, Bioverativ Inc. Shareholders will receive 1 Bioverativ common share for every 2 Biogen shares and a special dividend in connection with the spinoff.

* Japan-based Astellas Pharma Inc. acquired Germany-based biopharmaceutical company Ganymed Pharmaceuticals AG for €422 million. The acquisition will expand Astellas oncology portfolio, with the inclusion of Ganymed's gastroesophageal cancer drug IMAB362.

* Agilent Technologies Inc. agreed to acquire molecular diagnostics solutions provider Multiplicom NV for about €68 million in cash. The deal is expected to close by mid-January 2017.

* China Resources Double-Crane Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. plans to acquire Hainan Chuntch Pharmaceuticals for 850 million yuan, according to China Securities Journal. The acquisition is expected to extend China Resources Double-Crane's product lines to the fields of digestive system disease drugs, and anti-virus and anti-tumor drugs, the company said.

* India-based Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. closed the acquisition of an 85.1% stake in Russia-based JSC Biosintez, The Economic Times of India reported.

* Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. invested €10 million in equity in biopharmaceutical company TiGenix NV, StreetInsider reported.

Drug and product pipeline

* Johnson & Johnson's Janssen Biotech Inc. submitted two supplemental biologics license applications for the approval of Simponi Aria for the treatment of adults with active psoriatic arthritis, an inflammatory disease, and active ankylosing spondylitis, a bone disease affecting the pelvic joints and the spine. Simponi Aria is approved for the treatment of adults with rheumatoid arthritis.

* The U.S. FDA extended the date for its review of Roche Holding Ltd. unit Genentech's biologics license application for Ocrevus to March 28, 2017. Ocrevus is a monoclonal antibody that could treat multiple sclerosis.

* The FDA granted Juno Therapeutics and partner Celgene Corp.'s investigational drug JCAR017 a breakthrough therapy designation for the treatment of patients with relapsed/refractory aggressive large B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The European Medicines Agency also granted JCAR017 access to the priority medicines scheme for relapsed/refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

* Tesaro Inc., meanwhile, received priority review designation from the FDA for niraparib. Niraparib is being evaluated as a potential new treatment option for patients with recurrent epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer after chemotherapy.

* The FDA also approved Perrigo Co. PLC's abbreviated new drug applications to market equivalents to GlaxoSmithKline PLC's Nicorette White Ice Mint Gum, a nicotine chewing gum.

* Orion Oyj intends to apply for a marketing authorization of its Easyhaler in Europe in the first half of 2017. The Easyhaler drug product family is intended for the treatment of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Operational activity

* Pfizer Inc. agreed to collaborate with engineering research and development company Draper to develop Draper's microphysiological systems technology. According to the agreement, Draper will create three unique models of microphysiological systems for liver, vascular and gastrointestinal organs with the so-called "organs-on-a-chip" technology.

* Meanwhile, Pfizer Inc. also entered into an oncology research agreement with BioInvent International AB to develop antibodies targeting tumor-associated myeloid cells. Pfizer will pay approximately $10 million in early payments to BioInvent, including a $6 million equity investment in the biotech company.

* Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. secured exclusive worldwide rights to PsiOxus Therapeutics Ltd.'s NG-348, a preclinical stage oncolytic virus for the potential treatment of solid tumors. Bristol-Myers Squibb will make a $50 million upfront payment to PsiOxus for the rights.

* Sosei Group Corp.'s Corporate Venture Capital Ltd. is partnering with Pluristem Therapeutics Inc. to create a joint venture company to develop and commercialize Pluristem's PLX-PAD cell therapy in Japan. The therapy is being developed to treat critical limb ischemia and has been approved for clinical trial in Japan.

* Exelixis Inc. expanded its collaboration with Ipsen to include commercialization rights of cabozantinib in Canada for kidney cancer and liver cancer. Ipsen now has exclusive commercialization rights for current and potential future cabozantinib indications in Canada and outside the U.S. and Japan.

* Endo International PLC appointed Blaise Coleman CFO and executive vice president. Coleman was named interim CFO at Endo in late November.

* G. Frederick Wilkinson stepped down as Impax Laboratories Inc.'s president and CEO. J. Kevin Buchi was named an interim replacement.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng was up 0.37% to 21,809.80, and the Nikkei 225 fell 0.26% to 19,444.49.

In Europe, as of midday, the FTSE 100 fell 0.10% to 7,036.59, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.36% to 928.34.

The Daily Dose is updated as of 6:30 a.m. ET. Some external links may require a subscription. The Daily Dose will not be published Monday, Dec. 26, and Jan. 2, 2017.