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Good morning, folks, and welcome to the middle of the week. Things may appear to be moving slowly, but you survived this far, so why not continue? After all, consider the alternatives. In other words, the time has come to forge ahead. So please join us for the mandatory cup of stimulation — we are working our way through a new crop of Pumpkin Spice, for those tracking such things — as we get down to business. Here are some tidbits to help you along. Good luck, today, and do drop us a line if you hear something fascinating …

Novartis, which failed to reach earnings expectations in its most recent quarter, is overhauling its Alcon eye care unit, CNBC notes. As of Feb. 1, Mike Ball will replace Jeff George as the head of the struggling unit and start focusing on the core surgical and vision care businesses. “We don’t expect it to be a quick fix and it’s probably going to take us until mid-year before we start to see a turn on that business,” said Novartis CEO Joe Jimenez.

More drug makers are exploring new technology to allow patients to track their drug usage on smartphones or tablets and for their doctors to instantly access the data over the web to monitor their condition, Reuters writes. The so-called Medical Internet of Things is introducing more and more web-connected devices into use and, at the same time, placing an ever-growing amount of confidential patient data on to the cloud.


The Arkansas Department of Health said a person who recently traveled out of the country has tested positive for the Zika virus, the Associated Press reports. Meanwhile, Dr. Francis Collins, who heads the US National Institutes of Health, called for intensified efforts to study the impact of Zika infections, citing a recent study estimating the virus could reach regions where 60 percent of the US population lives, Reuters tells us.

Donald Trump’s unexpected declaration that the federal government should be allowed to negotiate drug prices for Medicare poses a new risk for biopharma stocks, Reuters says.


With nearly $39 billion in cash and short-term investments, Johnson & Johnson expects half of its growth to come from M&A deals this year, according to Bloomberg News.

Akashi Therapeutics suspended an early-stage clinical trial of a treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy because a patient on the highest dose experienced “serious, life-threatening health issues,” Xconomy writes.

MannKind, which makes the Afrezza inhaled insulin, is exploring strategic options, including a sale, Reuters reports. This comes just after Sanofi ended a deal to market the product.

Eli Lilly is closing a plant in Ireland that makes animal health medicines and eliminating about 100 jobs, according to The Irish Times.

Biosimilars received a boost after the UK’s cost-effectiveness agency said patients needing certain rheumatoid arthritis medicines “should be started with the least expensive drug,” Reuters writes, citing this guidance.

A federal judge said the Food and Drug Administration has jurisdiction in a class-action racketeering lawsuit filed against Boston Scientific connected to counterfeit resin made in China to make pelvic mesh, MassDevice says.