Fitch worries about Merck's share buyback plans; Novo plots $69M investment in Danish plant;

@FiercePharma: J&J issue in South Korea reminiscent of OTC problems here: Ordered to halt production of recalled Children's Tylenol: More | Follow @FiercePharma

@EricPFierce: Medicare spending growth so slow that Independent Payment Board won't be in play for 2015 drug pricing. Item | Follow @EricPFierce

> Fitch Ratings affirmed Merck's ($MRK) A+ rating but downgraded its outlook to "negative" on worries about the drugmaker's plans to finance share buybacks with debt. Report

> Novo Nordisk ($NVO) said it would invest $69 million in a Danish plant to prepare it to produce its new GLP-1 drug; the change is expected to add 50 jobs. Report

> Brazilian drugmaker Hypermarcas posted a better-than-expected first-quarter profits as cost cuts helped make up for inflation's effects on consumer demand. Report

> Israel's Alcobra Pharma filed to raise as much as $27.3 billion in an IPO, aiming to fund its R&D on a new ADHD remedy. Report

> An Australian company that converts human drugs into treatments for pets wants to raise R&D funding ahead of a possible IPO next year. Report

Medical Device News

@FierceMedDev: India draws industry ire with stent reimbursement reduction. Article | Follow @FierceMedDev

@MarkHFierce: Some VC love has gone to a Spanish diagnostics start-up, to the tune of $22.1 million. Release | Follow @MarkHFierce

 @DamianFierce: Parexel is spending $24M to bolster its consulting services and predicting a strong 2013. Story | Follow @DamianFierce

> Florida sales tax exemption aids medical device manufacturing base. Item

> Medtronic wins FDA nods for next-gen cardiac devices. News

> Nose neurons offer scent of schizophrenia Dx possibility. DxExtra

Biotech News

@FierceBiotech: NeuroPhage banks $6.4M for Alzheimer's drug development effort. Item | Follow @FierceBiotech

@JohnCFierce: AbbVie gains inside "breakthrough" track at FDA for hot hep C combo. News | Follow @JohnCFierce

@RyanMFierce: NeuroPhage found $6.4m for work on lead Alzheimer's candidate. Corporates Shire and Merieux invested. Release | Follow @RyanMFierce

> Bristol-Myers, AstraZeneca report positive data for rare metabolic disease drug. Article

> Novartis promises to test the full value of FDA's 'breakthrough' status. More

> Celgene turns to Concert for $300M deuterium-tweaking cancer collaboration. Story

CRO News

> Welsh CRO Simbec goes independent with new investment. Item

> CRO Novotech picks up PE investment to expand in Asia. News

> TFS buys Beardsworth to expand oncology trial work. Article

> Covance dials up projections after strong Q1. More

Biotech IT News

> Doc launches user-friendly website for clinical trials searches. More

> Martin Leach's 16-year interview for the job of Big Data boss at Biogen Idec. Editor's corner

> IMS Health acquires social media analytics startup Semantelli. Report

> Comprehend, GNS reach milestones with software for drug researchers. Article

> Sanofi teams with Big Data outfit to research drugs for diabetes and cancer. Story

And Finally... U.K. drugstore chain Alliance Boots has set its sights on Chinese expansion. Report (sub. req.)