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Morning Read: Merck acquires Afferent Pharma in $1.25B deal

Also, Carolinas Healthcare System faces an antitrust lawsuit from the state of North Carolina over unfair competition tactics and ScanDx claims to have developed an app that can detect bone fractures without X-ray.

Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images News

Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images News


Merck has agreed to acquire Afferent Pharmaceuticals in a $500 million deal. Afferent therapeutics to treat common, poorly managed, neurogenic conditions.  Afferent’s lead investigational candidate, AF-219, is being evaluated in a Phase 2b clinical trial for the treatment of refractory, chronic cough as well as in a Phase 2 clinical trial in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis with cough. Afferent stands to gain another $750 million if it meets certain milestones, valuing the deal at up to $1.25 billion.— BusinessWire, Fierce Biotech


GlaxoSmithKline will invest $50 million in bioelectronics through Action Potential Ventures, aiming to fund companies like SetPoint Medical. — Mass Device

Dr. Richard Pazdur, head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s office of oncology products says too many drug developers are pursuing overlapping immunotherapy strategies to treat cancer. — Reuters

ScanDx claims to have developed an app that can detect bone fractures without X-rays called FraxturedDx. — PR Newswire

Merck KGaA has doubled the amount of seed funding it provides to startups in its accelerator programs in Darmstadt, Germany and Nairobi, Kenya. — Fierce Biotech


UnitedHealth Group Inc. has appointed John Rex as its new CFO, a position he previously held at its subsidiary, Optum. He takes over for David Wichmann, who has served as president and CFO since 2014. — Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal

Carolinas Healthcare System faces an antitrust lawsuit from the state of North Carolina. The complaint alleges that it unlawfully imposed restrictions to prevent insurers from offering consumers a lower-cost provider and negotiated higher reimbursement rates to treat insured patients. — Healthcare Finance


Open Source Health has developed a platform to analyze biometric, genomic, molecular and patient-generated data. — Healthcare IT News

Jawbone acquired Spectros, a business that uses spectroscopy to create non-invasive molecular sensors, on the sly in 2015. — MobiHealthNews

Thomas J. Perkins, who served as co-founder of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, has died after a prolonged illness. — The New York Times

Shannon Fryery was named director of telehealth for North Mississippi Health Services. She has served in several different roles with North Mississippi Health such as director of nursing leadership, meaningful use coordinator, and nurse manager for outpatient services at Women’s Hospital. — Mississippi Business Journal

HealthFusion is integrating its software with ZocDoc in a collaboration deal. — BusinessWire


The Drug Enforcement Agency is waging a battle in Oregon to access patient medical records through the state’s Prescription Drug Monitor Program database in a push to limit the abuse of opioids. — The Daily Beast


Deepak Chopra has launched a wellness app, Jiyo. It taps data from sensors in the user’s phone and other fitness devices to offer targeted tips for brief tasks that are supposed to improve your well-being.  — TechCrunch