The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, Pfizer, Novartis, Actelion and Wal-Mart Stores

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For Immediate Release
Chicago, IL – August 30, 2013 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include the Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited ( TKPYY-Free Report), Pfizer Inc. (PFE-Free Report), Novartis (NVS-Free Report), Actelion Ltd. (ALIOF-Free Report) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT-Free Report).

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Here are highlights from Thursday’s Analyst Blog:

Takenda/Zinfandel Initiate AD Study
 
Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (TKPYY-Free Report) and partner, Zinfandel Pharmaceuticals, Inc. recently initiated a phase III study (:TOMMORROW) on pioglitazone. The study is evaluating a genetic-based biomarker risk assignment algorithm (risk assignment algorithm) to detect the risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer’s disease (:AD) within five years.

Takeda and Zinfandel are also evaluating the efficacy of pioglitazone in delaying patients from being affected by MCI due to AD. It is evaluating cognitively normal individuals at high risk as determined by the risk assignment algorithm. The algorithm consists of apolipoprotein E (:APOE) and TOMM40 genotypes and age. Age and APOE genotype have been earlier proved to elevate the risk of AD.

Takeda mentioned in its press release that the World Alzheimer Report 2010 estimated that dementia in some form or the other affected 35.6 million people across the globe. The incidence of the disease is on the rise and the report indicated that the disease is expected to affect 65.7 million and 115.4 million people globally by 2030 and 2050 respectively. AD is also highly prevalent in the U.S.

We remind investors that the Alzheimer’s disease market is currently extremely competitive with the presence of companies like Pfizer Inc. (PFE-Free Report) and Novartis (NVS-Free Report). Several other companies are also looking to enter the market.

Earlier this month, Takeda and partner, Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma Co., Ltd. announced the approval of their atypical antipsychotic medication, Latuda, in Switzerland. Approval was granted for treating patients suffering from schizophrenia. Latuda was approved in the U.S. for the treatment of schizophrenia in Oct 2010 and for major depressive episodes associated with bipolar I disorder in Jun 2013.

Takeda carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Currently, companies like Actelion Ltd. (ALIOF
-Free Report) look well positioned in the pharma space with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
 
Walmart to Widen Healthcare Benefits
According to Reuters, retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT
-Free Report) has decided to offer health care benefits to domestic partners of its U.S. workers, effective from Jan 1, 2014.
The health care benefits will cover legal spouses and domestic partners of the same or opposite sex, sharing an exclusive relationship for at least a year and intending to continue sharing a household in the long term. Enrollment for the program will start from Oct 12 and end on Nov. 1.

Walmart's extension of health insurance to domestic partners comes after the U.S. Supreme Court forced the federal government in June to recognize same-sex marriages in states where it is legal. Walmart has therefore decided to have one uniform health insurance policy for all 50 states, independent of each state’s definition of what marriage, domestic partnership or civil union entails.

Thus, the spouses and domestic partners of Walmart U.S. workers will now be covered in medical, dental, vision, life, critical illness and accident plans.

Walmart stated that more than half of its 1.3 million U.S. workers participate in health care plans and about 1.1 million Wal-Mart workers and family members jointly participate in Walmart's health care plan. These health care programs are expected to benefit a large number of full-time and part-time U.S. workers.

Being the largest private employer in the U.S., Walmart has always been concerned about its workers and employees. Last week, Walmart along with nearly 500 suppliers and 1500 government officials came forward at the U.S. Manufacturing Summit to discuss opportunities to accelerate manufacturing and employment opportunities in the country. Together, they are expected to invest more than $70 million for factory growth and creation of more than 1,000 domestic jobs.

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