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Health Stocks in Motion

Updated from 2:21 p.m. EDT

Shares of Quidel (QDEL) rose 7.3% after the board authorized the repurchase of up to $25 million in common stock. The provider of point-of-care rapid diagnostic tests said that shares may be purchased in both the open market and privately negotiated transactions for up to two years. Quidel has 32 million common shares outstanding. The stock closed up 34 cents to $5.01.

Angeion (ANGN) fell 5.4% after posting a narrower second-quarter loss. The medical diagnostic systems maker reported a loss of $238,000, or 7 cents a share, for the quarter ended April 30, vs. a loss of $879,000, or 24 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue rose 22% from a year earlier to $6 million. "Also noteworthy is the acceptance we're receiving from our Asian, European and South American markets where we've launched market specific products to meet international performance and pricing requirements," said CEO Rodney Young. The stock closed down 15 cents to $2.65.

Eli Lilly (LLY) and Alkermes (ALKS) rose after saying a phase II clinical study showed that people with type 1 diabetes who used their inhaled insulin system achieved similar blood sugar levels to patients who used injected insulin. Also, the companies said 80% of the patients preferred the inhaler system at mealtime over injected insulin. "These studies, taken together, show that inhaled insulin delivered by the Lilly/Alkermes system is equivalent in various clinical measures to injected insulin," said Dr. Douglas Muchmore, medical fellow at Lilly. The companies expect to begin enrolling patients in additional clinical studies in July. Eli Lilly closed up 35 cents to $57.65, while Alkermes finished up 69 cents, or 5.6%, to $12.94.

Isis Pharmaceuticals (ISIS) announced that its second-generation antisense drug ISIS 113715 reduced HbA1C and plasma glucose in diabetic patients after six weeks of dosing in a phase II study. "ISIS 113715 produced these promising results at low weekly doses and without the major side effects associated with other antidiabetic therapies, such as hypoglycemia, metabolic acidosis, nausea or weight gain," said Mark Wedel, chief medical officer at Isis. HbA1C reflects the average blood glucose level over a three-to-four-month period and is the standard measure used by physicians to tell if a patient's blood sugar is under control. The stock finished down a penny $3.89.

Other health stocks on the move are Merck (MRK), up 23 cents to $31.78; Pfizer (PFE), up 50 cents to $28.39; Elan (ELN), down 6 cents to $6.72; Abbott Labs (ABT), up 17cents to $49.02; and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), up 11 cents to $66.58.

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