Healthcare review: Express Scripts, Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, Mela Sciences, Advanced Cell Technology, Intermune Print E-mail
By Staff and Wire Reports   
Thursday, 03 July 2014 11:00
The Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 17,000 for the first time and the S&P 500 hit an intraday record on a jobs report that was far stronger than expected but nonetheless isn’t shifting expectations about when the Federal Reserve will start raising interest rates. The main benchmarks were on track to finish the holiday-shortened week with solid gains, while the Nasdaq Composite eyed its third weekly gain in a row. Trading is expected to get thinner as the day progresses. Both the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq will close early at 1 p.m. Eastern Time for the July 4th holiday.

Saying that most custom-mixed medicines are either ineffective or overpriced, pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts ($ESRX) plans to drop coverage for 1,000 drug ingredients found in compounded meds. The company states that the move will reduce employers' spending on compounded prescriptions by 95%. Express Scripts SVP Glen Stettin says, "What we are eliminating is, pure and simple, wasteful spending. These drugs are being used when there are other things available that are already approved by the FDA and are less expensive." The cuts will take effect on September 15, 2014 unless customers specifically ask to continue paying for them. Firms who want to opt out of the cuts must notify ESRX by Thursday (not sure if this means today).

The FDA approves Spectrum Pharmaceuticals' ($SPPI) Beleodaq (belinostat) for the treatment of patients with peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTCL) who have relapsed or who are refractory to previous treatment.

Advanced Cell Technology ($ACTC) enters into a $30M common stock purchase agreement with Lincoln Park Capital Fund LLC. Under the terms of the agreement, after the SEC declares its registration statement effective, ACTC will have the right to sell up to $30M worth of common shares to LPC over a 36-month period. The company issued common shares to LPC as payment for its commitment fee.

Mela Sciences ($MELA) will execute a one-for-ten reverse stock split effective at 5:00 pm EDT July 9, 2014. The reason for the reverse split is to enable the company to regain compliance with the NASDAQ's $1 minimum bid price requirement.

The FDA acknowledges the receipt of Intermune's ($ITMN) resubmitted NDA for pirfenidone. The PDUFA date in November 23, 2014. The agency sent the company a CRL in May 2010 recommending an additional Phase 3 clinical trial to support the efficacy of the product. Pirfenidone is being developed as a treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in adult patients.

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