Good morning, everyone, and how are you today? The middle of the week has arrived, and you are commended for having survived this far. This calls for a celebratory cup of stimulation, yes? After all, consider the alternatives. Meanwhile, here are some tidbits to help you take your mind off the dizzying events of the world, including that curious presidential election. Hope your day goes well, and do drop us a line when you hear intriguing news …
Valeant Pharmaceuticals may sell its Salix unit, which markets stomach medicines, to Takeda (TAK) Pharmaceuticals for about $10 billion, the Wall Street Journal reports. A deal would provide Valeant with badly needed funds to lessen its $30 billion debt load and dispose of a disappointing business acquired early last year for about $11 billion. The news boosted Valeant stock 34 percent as investors hope the drug maker can start to regain its strategic footing. But Wells Fargo analyst David Maris believes Valeant “would not sell its core assets if things were going well.” Given mounting government investigations and looming generic competition for key products, he writes investors that a Salix deal is “like selling the stove to keep the restaurant.”
Pharmaceutical industry PACs have given at least $4.4 million to Republicans and $2.6 million to Democrats in House races across the primary and general elections, according to figures compiled for STAT. Drug makers are are funneling money toward Republican candidates over concerns that a Democratic takeover of Washington might be bad news for the industry, given the intensifying call to lower prescription drug prices.
Eli Lilly shares fell after Bernie Sanders tweeted about the rising price of insulin over the past two decades. He cited a story in the Washington Post that noted Humalog was launched two decades ago with a list price of $21 for a vial and has since increased to $255. “Why has the price of Humalog insulin gone up 700% in 20 years? It’s simple. The drug industry’s greed,” he tweeted. Lilly stock fell 6 percent, but later recovered.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to explain their spending on EpiPen. “We need to determine whether taxpayers overpaid for the EpiPen through the Department of Defense and the VA and whether they deserve a rebate, as they do with Medicaid,” he wrote. Mylan Pharmaceuticals, which sells EpiPen, agreed to a $465 million settlement for shortchanging Medicaid.
The Chinese Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer’s (PFE) Prevnar 13 pneumococcal vaccine. The development comes after the drug maker last year closed its vaccines business in China after an import license for an earlier version of the vaccine was not renewed in April 2015. There was no indication when the vaccine, which generated more than $6.2 billion in sales last year, would be available.
A federal judge ruled that Pfizer has the right to press a case against the Department of Treasury over $8 million in interest stemming from a tax refund that went awry. The feds unsuccessfully argued that the lawsuit should have been dismissed or transferred to another court where such claims should be heard. Pfizer claims the feds failed to send $500 million in refund checks on a timely basis in 2009 and should pay interest since the checks arrived late.
A Palatin Technologies drug designed to boost female libidos in pre-menopausal women met the main goals in a pair of late-stage clinical trials, Reuters tells us. The drug demonstrated statistically significant improvement versus placebo on scales that measured levels of desire and distress in 24-week studies of more than 1,200 women diagnosed with hypoactive sexual desire disorder.
Celltrion, whose biosimilar version of Remicade is about to hit the US market, plans to expand R&D spending fivefold to $876 million in the next two or three years to help bolster a pipeline of original drugs, Reuters says.
Johnson & Johnson reached an out-of-court settlement in what would have been the sixth trial over claims its Risperdal antipsychotic pill caused a young man to grow breasts, the Legal Intelligencer says.