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Trump replaces VA chief with personal doctor; FDA looks to boost biosimilars

Top news

* U.S. President Donald Trump revealed via Twitter that he had ousted Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and planned to nominate the White House doctor, Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson, for the job.

Shulkin said in an op-ed published by The New York Times that people in the Trump administration that are in favor of privatizing V.A. health services saw him as an "obstacle to privatization who had to be removed."

The VA is comprised of three major administrations: the Veterans Health Administration, or VHA; the Veterans Benefits Administration; and the National Cemetery Administration. The VHA has over 1,200 facilities and provides care to over 9 million military veterans.

* U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the FDA would do what it could to help boost biosimilar competition, noting the agency plans to issue about a dozen new policies to move the ball forward.

Gottlieb noted at a forum hosted by CNBC in New York that the FDA is "one of the highest performing agencies in Washington."

M&A and capital markets

* Osaka, Japan-based Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.'s interest in Shire PLC is the latest development in the Irish drugmaker's long history of deal-making.

* Watertown, Mass.-based pSivida Corp. acquired privately held specialist biopharma Icon Bioscience Inc., and will rebrand, change name and start trading on the Nasdaq as EyePoint Pharmaceuticals Inc. from April 2.

* Japan's Eisai Co. Ltd. agreed to sell its entire stake in its wholly owned generics unit Elmed Eisai Co.,Ltd.

* Chinese conglomerate Fosun International Ltd., whose global investments range from Portuguese bank Millennium BCP to India's drug manufacturer Gland Pharma Ltd, said it will continue to pursue overseas acquisitions despite tightened scrutiny from the Chinese government on outbound deals and mounting global trade tensions.

Operational activity

* A U.S. District Judge reversed a previous decision that awarded GlaxoSmithKline PLC a payment of about $235 million from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. for infringing a GSK patent for its blood pressure medicine Coreg, Reuters reported.

* Reuters reported that a U.S. appeals court stayed a federal patent body's review of claims related to Allergan PLC's eye treatment Restasis until the court reviews the drugmaker's patent deal with St. Regis Mohawk tribe to fend off generic competition.

* Richmond, Va.-based Indivior PLC agreed to buy exclusive global rights to develop and commercialize U.K.-based C4X Discovery Holdings plc's potential de-addiction therapies in a deal involving a $10 million upfront payment plus potential milestone payments of up to $284 million.

* Irish pharmaceuticals company Nabriva Therapeutics plc and privately held Roivant Sciences will collaborate to develop and commercialize the antibiotic Lefamulin in the Greater China region.

Our features

* Pfizer unit left open to private equity bids as GSK buys Novartis' JV stake: GlaxoSmithKline's decision not to bid for Pfizer Inc.'s consumer healthcare business has left the U.S. pharma giant without an obvious industry suitor and vulnerable to private equity bids, following a record year for U.S. deal-making in 2017.

Other features

* The rate at which Americans are getting screened for early detection of colon cancer varied widely among U.S. states, with Wyoming recording the lowest rate at 59% compared to a high of 75% for Massachusetts, Reuters reported, citing a study from National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng was up 0.24% to 30,093.38, and the Nikkei 225 rose 0.61% to 21,159.08.

In Europe, as of midday, the FTSE 100 rose 0.40% to 7,072.99, and the Euronext 100 was up 0.39% to 1,010.74.

The Daily Dose is updated as of 6:30 a.m. ET.

The Dose will not be published Friday March 30 since U.S. markets are closed. We will resume publication Monday, April 2.

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