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US states sue federal government to repeal ACA; Apple eyes healthcare space

Top news

* Twenty U.S. states led by the attorneys general of Texas and Wisconsin filed a lawsuit against the federal government calling the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional after the Trump administration's recently enacted tax legislation eliminated the tax penalties of the ACA's individual mandate.

* Apple Inc. is launching a primary care group, AC Wellness, with an initial plan to open several clinics to provide healthcare services to its employees, CNBC reported citing sources. The iPhone maker will use the clinics to test its growing range of health services and products.

* The state of Ohio sued pharmaceutical distributors McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc., AmerisourceBergen Corp. and Miami-Luken, Inc. over their alleged role in the opioid epidemic.

* A joint venture between Amazon.com Inc., Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. will likely have a top executive by the end of 2018, Berkshire board Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett said.

On the policy front

* There is no appetite on Capitol Hill or at the White House to impose price controls on the biopharmaceutical industry, said former California Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman, the co-parent of the law that gave birth to the generic drug industry.

* The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating the less than optimal performance of influenza vaccines in the ongoing flu season and will discuss the selection of strains for next season's flu vaccines at an FDA advisory committee meeting March 1.

M&A and capital markets

*the potential value of Siemens AG's healthcare unit, Siemens Healthineers, has dropped to a range of about €26 billion to 30 billion, from 30 billion to €40 billion previously, according to Bloomberg News. The unit is expected to go public with a price range for the IPO scheduled for later this week.

* The European Commission's decision on whether to allow German life sciences giant Bayer AG to acquire Monsanto Co. in a deal valued at more than $60 billion will be disclosed in the first part of 2018, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told CNBC.

Drug and product pipeline

* Eli Lilly and Co.'s cancer medicine Verzenio won FDA approval to treat a type of advanced breast cancer, the third approved use for the drug within five months.

* Eli Lilly said its type 2 diabetes medicine Trulicity significantly reduced blood sugar levels in adults when combined with a class of medicines known as sodium-glucose co-transporter-2, or SGLT-2, inhibitors.

Operational activity

* Shares of Akorn Inc. lost about one-third of their value last night after German healthcare company Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA disclosed that it is probing Akorn for potential FDA data integrity breaches, The Wall Street Journal reported. Lake Forest, Ill.-based generic-drug maker Akorn — which is being acquired by Fresenius SE's generic-drug unit Fresenius Kabi for $4.3 billion — said it is investigating the alleged breaches and believes the probe should not affect the transaction's closing.

* The U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether biotech firm MiMedx Group Inc. overcharged the government for its tissue repair products, Bloomberg News reported, citing anonymous sources.

Other features

* According to a study published in BioRxiv, researchers found that the U.K.'s National Health Service could have saved £502 million if Pfizer Inc.'s painkiller Lyrica, also known as pregabalin, had come entirely off patent in 2015 and if the U.S. drug giant had not appealed a court ruling invalidating its patent, FiercePharma reported.

* Drugmakers developing potential sickle cell disease treatments including Pfizer, Global Blood Therapeutics Inc. and privately held Swedish biotech Modus Therapeutics AB are using new methods to enroll reluctant and previously sidelined patients for clinical trials of their medicine, Marketwatch wrote.

* Drug developers using the CRISPR gene editing technology, including CRISPR Therapeutics AG, Intellia Therapeutics Inc. and Editas Medicine Inc., added $458 million in market cap yesterday in an apparent reaction to a study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience from the Polish Academy of Sciences and an article by AllTechAsia, both showing the potential of CRISPR, BioCentury wrote.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng was down 0.73% to 31,268.66. The Nikkei 225 rose 1.07% to 22,389.86.

In Europe as of midday, the FTSE 100 dropped 0.15% to 7,278.76, and the Euronext 100 slid 0.23% to 1,030.59.

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

Mark Bonayon contributed to this article.