Spotlight On... Top-performing big cap med tech stocks in 2015; Califf moves to Senate vote for FDA top spot; CMS insights offered at JPM; and more...

The Dow Jones U.S. medical equipment index rose 7% in 2015, compared to 11% for the Nasdaq biotechnology index. The med tech index rose more than 20% in 2014, only adding to the disappointment of losing to the biotechs in 2015. Top performers were Boston Scientific ($BSX)--which is successfully spinning (and executing) a corporate turnaround story--and fast growing TAVR pioneer Edwards Lifesciences ($EW). Ironically, Edwards officials spend a lot amount of time defending themselves against Wall Streeters, who are annoyed that the company's 2015 guidance significantly underestimated growth. Another notable performer was heart pump maker Abiomed, whose stock price rose more than threefold during the year. Increased volatility and sharply falling stock prices mean that med tech stocks have a decent chance of beating out their flashier biotech cousins in 2016. Unproven biotechs are among the first stocks that investors drop when they become risk averse (analogous med tech startups rarely go public during the R&D only stage). But the sudden 30% drop in shares of HeartWare show med tech is a reminder that med tech stocks are subject to many of the same uncertainties as biotechs related to commercializing new technologies, though to a somewhat lesser degree. More

@FierceMedDev: ICYMI yesterday: Medtronic earns CE mark to use its drug-eluting balloon to help hemodialysis patients. Article | Follow @FierceMedDev

@EmilyWFierce: Zoetis slammed with up to $45M charge after EU ruling on Belgian tax scheme. FierceAnimalHealth story | Follow @EmilyWFierce

> In a win for LivaNova, the FDA approves the world's only sutureless aortic valve. Article

Pharma News

@FiercePharma: Will pharma marketing to Hispanics finally gain traction in 2016? FiercePharmaMarketing story | Follow @FiercePharma

@EricPFierce: Bayer's new plant in China will make both traditional Chinese meds and western OTC meds. FiercePharmaManufacturing report | Follow @EricPFierce

> A Senate committee has backed the nomination of cardiologist Robert Califf as the next FDA commissioner. Now he must be approved by the full Senate. Story

> CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt spoke at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference on the latest initiatives by the agency. Transcript

> OptMed received 510(k) clearance from the FDA for its BondEase topical skin adhesive for the closure of surgical incisions and lacerations as an alternative to sutures and staples. More

Biotech News

@FierceBiotech: BU group spotlights a lethal cascade that leads to Parkinson's. FierceBiotechResearch story | Follow @FierceBiotech

@JohnCFierce: When has Pfizer ever won an R&D marathon in the last decade? | Follow @JohnCFierce

> BioLineRx joins Merck's clique of immuno-oncology partners. Story

> Allergan's pipeline doesn't get enough respect, if you ask Pfizer. More

> Ysios, J&J back €11.5M round in Aelix to fund trials of HIV treatment. Article

Pharma Marketing News

> Will pharma marketing to Hispanics finally gain traction in 2016? More

> To flip the pricing debate, Big Pharma needs to tell some secrets. Story

> Look out, CLL. AbbVie and Roche's new venetoclax is on FDA's priority track. More

> Can Shire make the most of Baxalta's hemophilia meds? Item

> GSK's Slaoui sees 'major' vaccine market disruption for Merck as shingles candidate progresses. Article

Biotech Research News

> Cold Spring Harbor scientists develop a new drug for breast cancer. Report

> Johns Hopkins flags another possible successor to 'Special K' for depression. Story

> BU group spotlights a lethal cascade that leads to Parkinson's. More

> Slashing p75 neurotrophin receptor reduces obesity in mice: Gladstone. Article

> EPFL team creates an industrial-scale platform for stem cells. Item

Vaccines News

> Nearly a year into Novartis integration, GSK CEO won't discount vaccines spinoff. Report

> Aimmune takes peanut allergy vaccine into PhIII. More

> WHO seeks to ease cholera vaccine shortage with EuBiologics approval. Story

> Deal in Russia could cause Pfizer, GSK to lose contracts. Item

> New HIV vaccine player Aelix Therapeutics hits the scene with $12.7M Series A. Article