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WHO: No need for Merck vaccine yet; Mallinckrodt considers asset sale

* White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said U.S. President Donald Trump would do "whatever it takes to make sure people have quality, accessible healthcare," but gave no details two days after a tweet from the president called for more money to be spent. Trump's proposed fiscal-year 2018 budget asks Congress to make big spending cuts across several healthcare programs, including $610 billion from Medicaid over 10 years and almost $6 billion from the National Institutes of Health for next year.

* Although the Democratic Republic of the Congo has approved Merck & Co. Inc.'s experimental Ebola vaccine for potential use in the current outbreak, it is unlikely that it will be needed under current circumstances, according to a World Health Organization official. The United Nations health agency is not recommending the vaccine's use until there is a new confirmed case outside the current chain of transmission.

M&A and capital markets

* Mallinckrodt PLC is reportedly considering a sale of its generic drug unit, which could be valued at about $2 billion.

* GlycoMimetics Inc. raised about $92.6 million via an underwritten public offering of 8,050,000 common shares.

Drug and product pipeline

* Merck & Co. Inc. secured the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's approval for Isentress HD to treat HIV-1 infection in adult and pediatric patients in combination with other anti-retroviral agents.

* Indivior PLC is seeking U.S. FDA approval for RBP-6000 to treat moderate to severe opioid use disorder.

* The European Commission approved Pfizer Inc.'s Trumenba to prevent invasive meningococcal disease, an infection of the meninges that affects the brain membrane in people 10 years and older.

* The U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence cleared the use of Merck & Co. Inc.'s cancer drug Keytruda in previously untreated lung cancer patients under funding arrangements within the Cancer Drugs Fund. The agency did not recommend the routine use of the drug for newly diagnosed patients due to its high cost and uncertainties about overall survival benefits.

* Gilead Sciences Inc.'s combination treatment for HIV-1 infection met its primary endpoint in four phase 3 trials. The company plans to submit regulatory applications in the U.S. and EU in 2017.

* Novartis AG's CAR-T therapy CTL119, in combination with ibrutinib, showed positive response rates in a pilot study to treat patients with relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

* The European Medicines Agency accepted two Sandoz International GmbH biosimilars for regulatory review. Sandoz is proposing to market a biosimilar of AbbVie Inc.'s Humira and Johnson & Johnson's Remicade, both of which are used to treat autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Operational activity

* Perrigo Co. PLC reported first-quarter adjusted net income of $150.1 million, or $1.05 per share, down from $188.9 million, or $1.32 per share, in the first quarter of 2016.

* Janssen Biotech Inc. acquired the worldwide rights to Protagonist Therapeutics Inc.'s PTG-200 for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. The Johnson & Johnson unit paid $50 million up front and is liable to pay another $940 million in milestone-related payments.

* ImmunoGen Inc. agreed to license some of its compounds to Sanofi for a $30 million payment. The compounds were developed by Sanofi using ImmunoGen's technology.

* Ono Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. secured the rights to two late-stage cancer compounds developed by Array BioPharma Inc. The Japanese pharmaceutical company will pay $31.6 million for the rights to binimetinib and encorafenib in Japan and South Korea. The drugs are meant to treat BRAF-mutant melanoma and BRAF-mutant colorectal cancer.

* C. S. Muralidharan will become Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.'s CFO on June 19. Muralidharan joins the company from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. where he served as the regional controller of the Asia-Pacific region and country CFO of India.

Now featured on S&P Global Market Intelligence:

* Wuxi NextCODE raises funds for Chinese genomics push, eyes IPO: Wuxi NextCODE is bidding on a 10-year project to mine the genomes of 5 to 10 million Chinese people. The company, backed by Amgen Inc., Temasek and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s Jack Ma, remains privately held, though CEO Hannes Smárason said in an interview that an IPO could also be on the table.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng fell 0.16% to 25,660.65, and the Nikkei 225 was down 0.14% to 19,650.57.

In Europe, as of midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.44% to 7,559.54, and the Euronext 100 had climbed 0.26% to 1,025.25.

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