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Health Stocks in Motion

Shares of AVI BioPharma (AVII) were among the best-performing health-related stocks Monday, rising 9% after the company said it could receive $22 million from the 2006 defense-spending bill.

The spending bill, which still must be approved by the U.S. Senate, would direct $22 million to AVI for "the continued development of technology to test for and find therapeutic agents for Ebola ($6 million) and Marburg ($6 million) viruses, and anthrax and ricin toxins ($4 million)," the company said. The allocation also includes $6 million in new funding for therapeutic agents for dengue virus. "This funding level, while preliminary, is a validation of the successful application of our Neugene antisense technology to combat some of the most feared and challenging bioterror threats," AVI said. Shares were trading up 23 cents to $2.87.

Celgene (CELG) traded actively after the company said the action date for the Food and Drug Administration's priority review of the new drug application for Revlimid, for use in patients with transfusion-dependent anemia due to low- or intermediate-1-risk myelodysplastic syndromes, would be extended until Jan. 7. "The extension is a result of the FDA requiring more time to review additional information on Celgene's RevAssist risk-management program," the company said. "This additional material has been considered by the FDA to be a major amendment to the Revlimid NDA allowing the extension of the action date under PDUFA regulations." The action date was originally set for Oct. 7. Celgene shares, which had fallen as much as 5% in early trading, recently were trading up 49 cents, or 1%, to $54.81.

Shares of CollaGenex Pharmaceuticals (CGPI) rose 5% after the specialty pharmaceutical company said its new drug application for Oracea, which is used for the treatment of rosacea, has been accepted by the FDA. The company originally submitted the new drug application for Oracea on Aug. 1. "This is an important step in the regulatory process as we work to bring the first approved systemic treatment for rosacea to the marketplace," the company said. "While acceptance of the Oracea NDA submission does not ensure FDA approval, we believe that the strength of our clinical data demonstrating the safety and efficacy of Oracea will enable us to achieve this goal." The target date for reviewing the submission is May 30, 2006. CollaGenex shares gained 53 cents to $10.45.

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