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Thursday's Health Winners & Losers

Updated from 2:13 p.m. EDT

Biotech and pharmaceutical stocks generally tracked the climbing broader market indices Thursday, but among those bucking the trend was Sanofi-Aventis (SNY), which was still smarting from a U.S. regulatory hit the day before.

Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration recommended the agency reject Sanofi's Zimulti, which is sold in foreign markets under the name Acomplia, in part over concern that the weight-loss drug increases the risk of suicidal thinking.

Shares of France-based Sanofi closed down $1.74, or 4%, to $41.33, and that weighed on the Amex Pharmaceutical Index, of which Sanofi is a component. The index was down 0.4% at 352.07.

Getting a regulatory lift, however, was Given Imaging (GIVN). The Israel-based gastrointestinal diagnostics company climbed 5.2% higher after receiving FDA clearance for its next-generation PillCam ESO 2 video capsule for imaging the esophagus. Exclusive U.S. marketing rights for PillCam ESO have been granted to InScope, a division of Ethicon Endo-Surgery, a Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) company. Given Imaging was up $1.31 at $26.38.

Study news also moved stocks in the sector. Swinging more than 12% higher was DepoMed (DEPO), which announced after Wednesday's market close that it had begun dosing patients in a phase II trial for Gabapentin GR for the treatment of menopausal hot flashes. Gabapentin GR is an extended-release formulation of gabapentin, an FDA-approved drug for the treatment of seizures and postherpetic neuralgia. DepoMed closed up 54 cents at $5.

Taking the downward tack on study results was Barrier Therapeutics (BTRX), which announced results of a phase II/III study of a dermatology treatment that missed statistical significance for the study's primary endpoint. The pharmaceutical company said it has no plans to further develop liarozole, which was meant to treat lamellar ichthyosis, a rare genetic disorder that causes thick scaling of the skin. Shares closed down 24 cents, or 3.7%, at $6.32.

The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index, of which both DepoMed and Barrier Therapeutics are components, was up 0.6% at 823.43.

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