OBI Pharma signs MSD pact on Dificid in Taiwan; India eyes end to EU drug import ban;

> OBI Pharma said it has signed a new deal with MSD--Merck ($MRK) in the U.S. and Canada--that transfers exclusive rights to develop and commercialize its diarrhea drug Dificid in Taiwan to MSD. OBI Pharma gets an initial upfront payment of $3 million and could receive royalties and other payments if certain milestones are met. Those milestones were not disclosed. Release

> India is pinning hopes that a recent visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi will see an impasse broken on a European Union ban on Indian generic drugs because of testing flaws uncovered at GVK Biosciences. "It's our hope that this matter would be looked at fairly and sensibly and would hopefully not be an impediment to the free trade deal," India's Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told reporters of the ban on over 700 generic drugs now in place. Report

> The National University of Singapore plans a staff research focus on Synthetic Biology for Clinical and Technological Innovation across faculty, BioSpectrum reports, with $17 million in government funding as part of the city-state's push to build a globally competitive biopharmaceutical research, clinical and manufacturing cluster. Report

> Indian traditional medicines, or Ayurveda, need to be in conformity with modern science evaluation standards in order to ensure quality and safety, India's Federal Minister of State for Ayush Shripad Yesso Naik said, according to Business Standard. Report

> India's Department of Pharmaceuticals has run into roadblocks in efforts to push a local bulk drug manufacturing plan to keep prices in check, Bloomberg reported, saying proposals before Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sector were still under discussion. Report

>  The 16th Annual General Meeting of the Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturers Network is underway in Bangkok this week, bringing 44 manufacturers together to discuss access in developing countries with advocates including the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, GAVI, PATH and PAHO. Release

> Japan's Eisai said it will donate 151 million 100 mg tablets of the lymphatic filariasis treatment diethylcarbamazine citrate to Indonesia as the government launches a mass campaign to fight the disease transmitted to humans through mosquito bites. In a release, the company said there are more than 100 million people at risk of infection in Indonesia, second to India in population-exposure severity. Release

> Japan's three duodenoscope makers were asked to review new cleaning procedures by the U.S. FDA as a safety move after the spread of a "superbug" via the devices in the past year brought civil lawsuits and U.S. Justice Department probe. Report

> Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare this week granted final approval Merck's DPP-4 inhibitor Marizev and Shionogi's thrombopoietin (TPO) receptor agonist Mulpleta, a spokesman for the ministry said. Reimbursement pricing is expected to follow likely within weeks. AstraZeneca's ($AZN) Caprelsa, DPP-4 inhibitor Ecumet from Novartis ($NVS) and Takeda's Copaxone also received formal nods. Website

> San Diego-based Elcelyx Therapeutics has raised half of its planned $40 million Series E funding with help from Hong Kong's Sailing Capital and plans to raise the remaining $20 million in 2016, according to a release. The money will be used for a Phase IIb clinical trial to evaluate its diabetes drug Metformin DR. Release

> San Francisco-based Tunitas Therapeutics has raised $10 million in venture capital from China investors Ally Bridge Group and WuXi Ventures, according to a release. Tunitas will use the funds for Phase I clinical trials and Phase IIa studies for its fusion protein candidate, epsi-gam, and to develop targeted vaccines for allergies. Release

> Germany's Curetis signed a global, nonexclusive license for AcuSept, a proprietary biomarker panel, from Acumen Research Laboratories of Singapore, according to a release. The two companies also inked an exclusive, multiyear ASEAN distribution pact for the Unyvero production line, a diagnostics system for severe infectious diseases. Release (PDF)