Healthcare Stocks Recap: FDA Rejects Teva, Pfizer Gets Approval

Sanofi’s (NYSE:SNY) Lantus, is the world’s leading insulin drug. With annual sales of $4.7B, it almost triples the risk of developing cancer among diabetics, a Swedish study shows. Sanofi dismissed the research as being flawed and too small, and pointed out that over 38M patients who’ve taken the drug for at least a year show no danger.

Express Scripts (NASDAQ:ESRX) and Medco Health (NYSE:MHS) are said to incite fear of retaliation among many major firms according to Sen. Herb Kohl, if they speak out at a DC hearing to criticize the proposed merger. Other Senators joined Kohl in railing against the union. They argue the union would create a PBM giant controlling 60% of the mail order prescription business and 50% of the specialty drug market. Still up for the ESRX-MHS deal: Reaching an agreement with the FTC and keeping a slue of state attorneys general off their back.

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Teva Pharmaceuticals’ (NASDAQ:TEVA) bid is rejected by the FDA to gain clearance for its morning-after pill to be sold over-the-counter. The pill will continue to be kept behind pharmacy counters and only sold without prescription to females aged 17 and older.

Stryker (NYSE:SYK) a medical device maker shares rose a little after announcing an 18% increase in its dividend, to $0.2125/share (1.8% annual yield), and a $500M increase to its stock buyback authorization. Stryker adds it’s repurchased $625M worth of shares in 2011 thus far.

AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) says it’s cutting its U.S. sales force by about 24%. About 1,150 leadership and sales positions will be eliminated as part of the company’s recent efforts to cut costs. The reduction adds to its ongoing restructuring program unveiled last year, when it said it would cut thousands more jobs over coming years. Expectations for sliding profit and revenue-growth challenges, have led to the restructuring.

Pfizer’s (NYSE:PFE) drug axitinib has been unanimously recommended for approval by an FDA advisory board for use in patients with advanced kidney cancer. Pfizer research showed the new drug was at least as effective as Nexavar, a drug which is already on the market and made by Bayer and Onyx.

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