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Health Care Roundup: Market Talk

8 Sep 2017 8:20 am

The latest Market Talks covering the Health Care sector. Published exclusively on Dow Jones Newswires at 4:20 ET, 12:20 ET and 16:50 ET.

0005 GMT - China Medical (0867.HK) shares are liable to lag today as a pair of executives are selling some of their stakes in the medicine producer. They're offering a combined 90 million shares, or 3.6% of the amount outstanding, at a 7% discount to yesterday's close. It's Lam Kong's first sale in 2 1/2 years, and his stake will ease to 44%. Meanwhile, Cheng Hongbing will drop to 2.6%. But with this sale being smaller than Lam's last one, Smartkarma analyst Toh Zhen Zhou believes the market will be able to absorb the supply well. China Medical has risen 19% this year, according 2015's record high. (john.wu@wsj.com)

2313 GMT [Dow Jones]--New Mexico sued several major pharmaceutical companies and wholesale drug distributors on Thursday, arguing the corporations are partly to blame for rampant opioid addiction rates in the state. The lawsuit, filed in state court in Santa Fe County, follows the lead of a half dozen other states that have also sued over the opioid crisis. All claim pharmaceutical companies played down the addictive risk of the painkillers in their marketing to the public and doctors, causing them to be widely prescribed for chronic pain and fueling addiction. Thursday's suit names drugmakers Purdue Pharma LP, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Johnson & Johnson, Endo International PLC and Allergan PLC, distributors AmerisourceBergen Corp., McKesson Corp., and Cardinal Health Inc., and various subsidiaries. The companies have denied liability in the mounting litigation while stressing that they support the proper use of opioids. (sara.randazzo@wsj.com; @sara_randazzo)

2155 GMT - AbbVie (ABBV) closed up 6.1% on what Jefferies calls a "double dose of good news": a decision by a US federal patent agency not to review the validity of an ABBV patent for flagship drug Humira, and positive results from a midstage clinical trial of an experimental drug for eczema, upadacitinib. JP Morgan sees the patent news as "further reducing the risk of a US biosimilar Humira launch prior to the early 2020's and a clear positive for ABBV." (peter.loftus@wsj.com; @Loftus)

1841 GMT - New York's highest court rules that physician-assisted suicide isn't a fundamental right, rejecting a legal effort by terminally ill patients to decriminalize doctor-assisted suicide through the courts. The state Court of Appeals, though, said it wouldn't stand in the way if New York's legislature were to decide that assisted suicide could be "effectively regulated" and pass legislation allowing terminally ill and suffering patients to kill themselves. (jacob.gershman@wsj.com)

1526 GMT - New study data for a pair of experimental drugs are raising fears of new competition for Regeneron's (REGN) drug Dupixent. The would-be competitors are likely years behind REGN, but investors have high hopes for Dupixent, which was launched earlier this year and is expected to reach $3.51B in global annual sales in 2020, according to FactSet. After Wednesday's close, Amgen (AMGN) and AstraZeneca (AZN) published mid-stage study data for their asthma drug that looks similar to studies of REGN's Dupixent, JPMorgan says. Today, AbbVie (ABBV) released a mid-stage study for a drug that analysts say looks comparable to Dupixent as a treatment for eczema, which the drug was approved to treat in March. REGN down 5.6%; ABBV up 2.8%; AMGN up 1.4%; AZN up 4.7%. (joseph.walker@wsj.com)

1523 GMT - The FTSE 100 index is up 0.7% at 7402.53 in late trade, outperforming European stocks as the pound drops against the euro after the European Central Bank upgraded growth forecasts and said plans to scale back monetary easing next year would probably be presented in October. The euro trades up 0.3% at GBP0.9168, having briefly risen above 0.92. AstraZeneca is among the top gainers, up 4.2%, after Bristol-Myers Squibb said its immunotherapy combination, which failed to shrink tumors in kidney cancer, improved overall survival after longer observation, rekindling hope for AstraZeneca's cancer immunotherapy combination. FTSE 250-listed Bovis Homes Groups jumps 9.3% after chief executive Greg Fitzgerald said the operational issues the home developer has been facing are fixable. (jessica.fleetham@wsj.com)

1519 GMT - Large cap biotech stocks are up 15% or more for the year, better than the market overall, and Leerink sees more growth ahead. Among the leaders is Vertex (VRTX), whose shares have risen 114% so far this year. The increases follow positive earnings results for 2Q, positive clinical trial news and new-drug approvals--and most recently, Gilead's (GILD) $11 billion deal for Kite Pharmaceuticals (KITE). Leerink says the performance is based on multiple expansion, not revisions to revenue or EPS estimates, and multiples remain historically low so there is room for more stock upside. (jonathan.rockoff@wsj.com; @jonathanrockoff)

1458 GMT - More clinical trials testing immunotherapies in multiple myeloma have been placed on partial hold as federal health regulators look into safety concerns. Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY), along with Celgene (CELG) and partner AstraZeneca (AZN), said several of their trials were placed on partial clinical hold by the FDA. The companies said subjects receiving benefit will keep taking the study drugs, but no new subjects will be enrolled. The moves come after the FDA found risks in multiple-myeloma studies of Merck's (MRK) immunotherapies. MRK put three Keytruda trials on hold after more subjects on the immunotherapy regimen were dying than on the comparator arm. (jonathan.rockoff@wsj.com; @jonathanrockoff)

1438 GMT - Some hope has rekindled for the AstraZeneca cancer immunotherapy combination which failed to slow tumor growth in metastatic lung cancer, sending shares down 15% when the negative result was released in July. At the time, investors were skeptical about management's argument that the combination could still prove successful in the longer-term measure of overall survival. But that thesis got a boost Thursday when Bristol-Myers Squibb said that its own immunotherapy combination, which failed to shrink tumors in kidney cancer, improved overall survival after longer observation. AstraZeneca shares up 3.8% at 4751 pence. Bristol-Myers Squibb shares up 3.2%. (denise.roland@wsj.com ; @deniseroland)

1353 GMT - Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) stops an immunotherapy-drug trial early, after the combination of two agents met its overall survival endpoints ahead of schedule. The early stoppage "establishes BMY as a clear leader," in first-line treatment of renal cell carcinoma, JPMorgan says. The sales opportunity could be $1.5B, Evercore ISI says. The phase 3 trial was looking at a combination of Opdivo and Yervoy versus Pfizer's (PFE) Sutent. Bernstein Research says the results pave the way for the company to seek approval. Shares are up 3.1%. (jonathan.rockoff@wsj.com; @jonathanrockoff)

1050 GMT - AstraZeneca shares climb Thursday after it announced the publication of positive mid-stage trial data for tezepelumab, an experimental asthma drug it is co-developing with Amgen, in the New England Journal of Medicine. In the trial, tezepelumab worked in patients with various kinds of uncontrolled asthma, unlike its most advanced competitors, which target certain subsets of these patients. Around 10% of all asthma patients cannot control the disease using currently-available drugs. Analysts at Barclays, which has a positive rating on AstraZeneca, note that it is unusual for mid-stage, or phase two, clinical trial results to win a coveted spot in the prestigious medical journal. Under a collaboration signed in 2012, AstraZeneca and Amgen share all development costs and eventual profits of tezepelumab and four other respiratory and inflammation drugs. AstraZeneca shares up 1.25% at 4634 pence. (denise.roland@wsj.com ; @deniseroland)

0839 GMT - Circassia shares climb Thursday morning after the Oxford, U.K.-based biotech company said Duaklir, an inhaler combining two respiratory drugs, significantly improved lung function in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease compared with its component drugs used individually. The result gives Circassia some much-needed relief after the failure of its closely-watched cat-allergy vaccine failed a key clinical trial last year, wiping out two-thirds of the company's value. Duaklir was developed by AstraZeneca, which earlier this year sold the U.S. marketing rights for it and another respiratory drug to Circassia in return for a minority stake in the smaller company, and payments related to the approval and eventual sales of the medicines. Circassia shares trade up 13.6% at 88 pence. AstraZeneca trades up 0.7% at 4608 pence. (Denise.roland@wsj.com;@deniseroland)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 08, 2017 04:20 ET (08:20 GMT)

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