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Health Winners & Losers: Maxygen

Health stocks closed the week on a positive note as analysts adjusted their stance on a few individual stocks.

The Nasdaq and Amex biotech indices were up 1.8% and 1.5% Friday while the Amex pharmaceutical index was up 0.9% at 286.68.

One stock not registering a gain, Maxygen (MAXY) slid $1.36, or 28%, to $3.49 after disclosing in a Securities and Exchange Comission filing that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted a patent to Amgen (AMGN) on June 3 that Amgen may contend covers Maxygen's MAXY-G34 product candidate for chemotherapy-induced neutropenia, a low number of the bacteria-destroying white blood cells that defend against infections.

Maxygen said its current activities are exempt from patent infringement liability, but if and when it commercializes MAXY-G34, Amgen might begin an infringement action. In that case, Maxygen believes it would have a viable defense. But, the company warned, "If we are unable to show that Amgen's patent is invalid and we are unable to obtain a license from Amgen for the use of their intellectual property, this may materially impact our ability to manufacture and sell MAXY-G34."

Amgen shares traded up 75 cents, or 1.7%, at $43.97. The stock is a component of the aforementioned Amex biotech index.

Shares of fellow component Gilead (GILD) were up $1.41, or 2.7%, at $54.14. The company said Friday that its inhaled drug for cystic fibrosis continued to meet safety goals in an interim analysis of an ongoing, open-label study dubbed AIR-CF3. Data were presented at the Annual European Cystic Fibrosis Conference, which runs June 11-14 in Prague. The Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to make its approval decision on Sept. 16.

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