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Friday's Health Winners & Losers

After an enthusiastic midweek hop, biotech stocks rounded out a blasé end-of-week performance with business updates and legal matters Friday.

Celera (CRA), however, emerged as a winner. The company said Friday it received a $2 million milestone payment from Merck (MRK) for the advancement of odanacatib for osteoperosis into a phase III clinical trial.

Celera, an Applera (ABI) subsidiary, and Merck have had a collaboration agreement since 1996 on a program targeting cathepsin K, an enzyme believed to play a role in osteoperosis. Merck has been sole responsible for research and development since February 2003.

Celera shares gained 3.7% to $14.05. Applera was unchanged. Merck was 1.2% lower at $51.65.

Other stocks dealt with the aftermath of business updates:

Idenix Pharmaceuticals (IDIX) lost ground after announcing a restructuring plan to focus on hepatitis C virus (HCV) and HIV programs. The company amended an agreement with Novartis (NVS) to discontinue all activities for hepatitis B treatment Tyzeka and cutting a third of its workforce. The plan is expected to result in annual savings of $40 million to $45 million.

Idenix, a component of the Nasdaq biotechnology index, lost 17 cents, or 5.6%, to $2.86. The index was down 5.03, or 0.6%, to 854.37.

Also on the way down was Par Pharmaceuticals (PRX), which said it expects lower earnings as competitive pressures have resulted in scaled back sales of several products. It gave guidance of between 95 cents a share and $1.10 a share -- or between $1.05 and $1.20 a share after one-time events -- on revenue of $730 million to $765 million. The Thomson Financial consensus target was $1.56 a share.

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