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Today's Health Winners and Losers

Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) were among the worst-performing health-related stocks Tuesday, slumping 15% after the drugmaker's phase III trial of a hepatitis C treatment failed to meet one of its key goals.

While the company's Viramidine drug fared well in overall safety compared to ribavirin, the study showed that it didn't meet an efficacy endpoint. The company said that the sustained viral response rate for Viramidine was 38% compared to 52% for ribavirin. "However," the company said, "the SVR rates were adversely impacted by the effect of lower dosing on a mg/kg basis in the Viramidine arm and by statistically inconsistent results seen in the rest of the world region." The company said it continues to work toward a commercial launch of the treatment, which is expected before the end of 2007. Shares were trading down $2.79 to $15.89.

Novavax (NVAX) fell 8% after the company said it plans to sell 5.2 million shares of stock for $7.30 apiece, raising some $38 million. The sale price represents a 12% discount to Monday's closing price of $8.31. Novavax plans to use proceeds from the offering to fund general corporate needs. Rodman & Renshaw acted as the placement agent for the offering. Shares were trading down 64 cents to $7.67.

Shares of NitroMed (NTMD) rose 7% after the company announced the departure of its chief executive, Michael Loberg, and chief financial officer, Lawrence Bloch. The resignations are effective immediately. The drug company didn't offer an explanation for the departures, but the resignations come less than three weeks after NitroMed posted disappointing fourth-quarter results. Argeris Karabelas, the company's chairman, will assume the CEO position on an interim basis. Kenneth Bate, meanwhile, will become CFO as well as chief operating officer. Shares were trading up 54 cents to $8.37.

Biomet (BMET) fell 4% after the medical device company posted weaker-than-expected third-quarter revenue and offered tepid guidance. The company earned $106.1 million, or 43 cents a share, on revenue of $506.3 million. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expected earnings of 43 cents a share and revenue of $516.3 million. During the year-earlier period, the company earned $96.8 million, or 38 cents a share, on revenue of $482 million. On an adjusted basis, the company earned $101.6 million, or 40 cents a share, a year earlier.

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