Welcome to "This Week in Health Care," where we highlight top sector stories in a fast-hitting style that lets you get back to your weekend. Let's get started.

AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) struck a deal to keep a generic of Seroquel XR off the market until 2016. Handa Pharmaceuticals' version of the antidepressant allegedly posed the toughest court battle to win, so getting a settlement here is a good move for AstraZeneca. In unrelated news, Chairman Louis Schweitzer will be retiring. During his tenure, share prices have increased 63%, but AstraZeneca is facing a challenging medium term, where the patent cliff and pipeline difficulties may weigh on shares.

Xarelto strikes back! In the multibillion-dollar battle to replace the maligned blood-thinner warfarin, Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and Bristol Myers-Squibb's (NYSE: BMY) Eliquis claimed front-runner status with results that did indeed rock. Having Bayer and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) offer Xarelto, where labeling concerns of non-superiority have dampened enthusiasm, pulled off a big win. In a just-released study, patients suffering from acute coronary syndrome who were given Xarelto outperformed the placebo. Increased bleeding forced Eliquis to stop short a similar trial. Bayer is expected to push for FDA approval on an ACS indication this year.

Everyone falls back on the aging baby boomers as a reason to be bullish on health care for the long term. Other investors like to highlight international markets like China and India, where a large segment of the population is now wealthy enough to afford expensive Western medicine. And if we combined an aging population in a wealthy international market, what would we have? Japan. Big Pharma has noticed that Japan spends $100 billion on drugs annually and that almost a quarter of the population is over 65. Japan's own Takeda is the dominant player there, yet it controls only 6.5% of the market. Pfizer is No. 2, and it's employing increasingly aggressive sales strategies to get patients to request drugs by name. Approval times are swiftening, and companies like Novartis (NYSE: NVS), which has launched 11 new drugs in the land of the rising sun during the past two years, have significant growth expectations.

And for your weekend reading assignment: Don't miss out on the Fool's take on The Biggest Investor Worry of the Election Season; how to play A Drug Market That's 366 Million Strong; and why in the big biotech space Buybacks That Are Better Than Dividends.

See you next week!