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Lots of breaking news in the Healthcare (NYSE:XLV) sector this week. Here’s your Cheat Sheet to some of the week’s top stories:
Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) is working hard to keep up patent protection on cash-cow drug Viagra, which does over $1 billion in US sales yearly. In a federal trial that is set to begin on Wednesday, the big-Pharma leader will ask government officials to extend its exclusive rights to manufacture and sell the drug until the year 2019. The trial has emerged from a related patent infringement lawsuit Pfizer attorneys brought against Israeli drug-maker Teva (NASDAQ:TEVA), which has made public its plans to produce generic versions of Viagra starting in 2012, when the initial patent will expire. Pfizer claims that is entitled to extended protection because the current drug represents a different, separately protectable invention from the product that was originally issued a patent in 1990. The legal battle is expected to play out for months.
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Health insurer Aetna (NYSE:AET) announced plans to expand into senior coverage as the company agreed to buy a Medicare Supplemental-Insurance business from Genworth Financial (NYSE:GNW) for $290 million. The business reported revenues of over $310 million last year and is expected to increase the number of persons on Aetna coverage by 145,000. According to Aetna’s CEO, “Medicare supplement is expected to be a fast-growing product in the coming years as individuals seek peace of mind for out-of-pocket costs and employers look for added retiree coverage.”
Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) continues to see its shares slide as word spreads that the pharmaceutical company has been subpoenaed by the US Attorney’s Office in Northern California, which will look to investigate several of the company’s top selling drugs.
GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) and Valeant (NYSE:VRX) shares stand to gain as the FDA announced it has approved “limited authorization” for a new epilepsy drug the two pharmaceutical companies had developed together. The drug “Potiga” has not yet been classified by the FDA, and is expected to hit markets by year end.
Wednesday the FDA confirmed studies that showed Regeneron‘s (NASDAQ:REGN) proposed eye drug met effectiveness goals without posing any major health risks. The stock is up 82% since the beginning of the year, 55% in the last three months, and now another 5.07% today during regular hours and already 2.52% in the first few minutes of after-hours trading.
Johnson & Johnson’s (NYSE:JNJ) has exited the market for drug-coated heart stents, leaving former rival Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX) in the position to earn an extra $175 million in 2012-2013. While Boston Scientific stands to gain the most, Abbot Labs (NYSE:ABT) and Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) could also see an increase in business. J&J also announced a special charge of $500-600 million for restructuring of their Cordis unit, which develops treatments for vascular disease. The restructuring will cut 900-1,000 jobs.
Private-equity firm Porton Group has accused 3M (NYSE:MMM) of sabotaging their tests of BacLite, a drug designed to fight staph infections, in order to reduce competition for a similar product that 3M has been developing. Porton was set to get royalties from BacLite after selling the drug to 3M.
Aveo Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:AVEO) has announced a new public offering of 5.75 million shares at $17.50 a share. Since the stock went public in March of last year, shares have gone up 95.22% from a share price of $8.99 to today’s closing price of $17.55. Shares are down 8.07% today.
Synthes is under investigation by the Swiss stock exchange SIX for possible insider trading after shares spiked shortly before announcing the company’s sale to Johnson & Johnson.
A review of five trials involving over 6,500 patients showed that Pfizer‘s (NYSE:PFE) Spiriva inhaler, meant to treat chronic lung disease, was associated with a 52% rise in the risk of mortality compared to the placebo. Pfizer shares are down 1.90%.
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