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Health Stocks in Motion

Updated from 1:56 p.m. EST

Shares of V.I. Technologies (VITX) were among the best-performing health and pharmaceutical stocks Thursday, rising 69.6% after the company's merger partner received fast-track status from the Food and Drug Administration for its HIV drug.

Privately held Panacos Pharmaceuticals, which plans to merge with V.I during the first quarter of 2005, said the oral drug was well tolerated during phase Ia and phase Ib studies. Full results will be presented at a conference in February. In December, the company initiated a phase IIa trial of PA-457. Results from the trial are expected during the second quarter of 2005. Shares traded up 48 cents to $1.17.

Icon (ICLR - Get Report) fell 3.5% after the company posted second-quarter results that beat expectations but warned that full 2005 results would fall short. The clinical research organization posted earnings of 41 cents a share during the second quarter on sales of $79.5 million. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 40 cents a share on sales of $75.9 million. Looking ahead, Icon forecast 2005 earnings of $1.68 to $1.70 a share. Previously, the company forecast earnings of $2 to $2.10 a share. Analysts had been expecting earnings of $2.03 a share. Shares traded down $1.25 to $35.

Shares of Osteotech (OSTE) fell 10.8% after the company cut its 2004 sales outlook and said a writedown would cause it to post a bigger loss than expected. The $5.8 million writedown will now result in the company posting a loss of 28 cents to 31 cents a share. Previously, Osteotech said it would post a loss of 2 cents to 5 cents a share.
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