The Weekly Summary

SNL-on-Obama-interpreterDecember 9th – December 15th

In the general news, China became only the third country on earth to land a vehicle on the moon. In South Africa, fleeing domestic scandals, The POTUS traveled to the ceremonies for Nelson Mandela, only to generate new controversies. In the U.S., The Fed sold the last of its shares in GM and leaked that it would taper the bond buying soon, sending the stock market down. Congress passed a budget compromise, and the Volcker Rule was finally enacted as the Obama strategy turns toward focusing on the growing gap between the ultra-wealthy and struggling middleclass.

In healthcare business news, Covidien (COV) acquired Given Imaging (GIVN). HeartWare (HTWR) acquired Circulite. Emergent BioSolutions (EBS) bought Cangene (CA). Roche struck a deal with Prothena (PRTA) worth up to $600 M for their Parkinson’s drug, and Edwards (EW) hosted an analyst day with disappointing guidance.

On the data front, AbbVie (ABBV) posted good data on their all-oral HCV drug regimen, and ABBV drug veliparib for breast cancer was also promising, sending shares higher. CytRx’s (CYTR) sarcoma cancer drug, aldoxorubicin, met endpoints, sending shares up 100%. Also, T-cells modified by gene therapy showed promise in fighting leukemia.

Trials that failed included St. Jude’s (STJ) renal denervation study, Aveo’s (AVEO) colon cancer drug, tivozanib, and Avanir’s (AVNR) MS drug.

From the FDA, Acura (ACUR) shares rose as their abuse-resistant hydrocodone proceeded toward approval. Boston Scientific (BSX) won a surprise backing from a panel on the Watchman device to prevent stroke. Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) also got panel approval for orphan drug metreleptin, as well as for dapagliflozin. Lastly, a panel voted Merck’s (MRK) allergy drug Grastek effective.

Bad news from the FDA came for Biogen Idec (BIIB), with a manufacturing warning letter on the plant that makes Tysabri and Avonex. United Therapeutics (UTHR) received subpoenas for improper marketing. Also, private Sprout Pharma seems to be unable to advance their libido-enhancing drug filibanserin for females. Lastly, several state AG’s urged the FDA to not approve painkiller Zohydro made by Zogenix (ZGNX).

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