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Health Winners & Losers: Indevus

Pharma stocks mostly fell while their biotech counterparts generally kept in the green midweek, presenting a mixed platter of regulatory and business updates Wednesday.

Indevus (IDEV) shares slid 69% to $1.26 Wednesday on news of a Food and Drug Administration delay. The company said regulators will not approve Nebido, a long-acting injectable testosterone, without additional safety data and a new clinical trial expected to take 18 months.

The FDA also said Wednesday that it's looking into a possible cancer risk in a class of drugs called tumor necrosis factor blockers (TNF inhibitors) in young arthritis patients. The drugs include Abbott's (ABT) Humira, Schering-Plough's (SGP) Remicade and Amgen (AMGN) and Wyeth's (WYE) Enbrel.

The agency issued an "early communication" that it has received 30 reports of cancer development in children and young adults who were taking the drugs over the last 10 years. About half were lymphomas, or immune system cancer.

Amgen and Wyeth, which issued a statement in response, traded up 0.8% and down 0.9%, respectively. Abbott's shares were down 0.5%, and Schering fell 0.4%.

In ratings actions, Cowen and Co. analyst Steve Scala upgraded Eli Lilly (LLY - Get Report) to outperform from neutral on Wednesday, on optimism regarding the upcoming FDA decision on Lilly's blood-thinner Effient. Lilly's shares added 1.5% to $49.04.

Scala also upgraded Novartis (NVS - Get Report) to outperform from neutral, but downgraded Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY - Get Report) to neutral from outperform. Those pharma stocks each traded down 1.4%.

The Amex pharmaceutical index, which includes Lilly and Bristol but not Novartis, was down 0.6% at 296.86. Biotechnology companies seemed to fare better. The Nasdaq and Amex biotech indices both added 0.9%.

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