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Health Winners & Losers: Abbott Labs

Big Pharma stocks climbed in an abbreviated trading session Thursday and ahead of the long holiday weekend as news from the previous day nudged a few medical device and pharmaceutical stocks.

While the Nasdaq and Amex biotechnology indices were both slightly down, the Amex pharmaceutical index added 1.7%.

Every single stock component of the pharmaceutical index, in fact, was in the green, with the exception of King Pharmaceuticals (KG). King gave up 22 cents, or 2%, to $10.49. Amgen (AMGN), AstraZeneca (AZN), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Sanofi-Aventis (SNY) were each with 3%-plus gains.

Meanwhile, Abbott Laboratories (ABT) shares climbed on the Food and Drug Administration approval of its Xience V, a drug-eluting stent for patients with coronary artery disease. The drug-coated mesh tube will compete with products by Boston Scientific (BSX), Medtronic (MDT) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ).

Abbott, which said it will launch the stent in the U.S. immediately, saw shares rise 1% to $54.80. Shares of competitor Boston Scientific, which makes the Taxus stent, edged down 4 cents to $12.37.

Elsewhere, an FDA advisory panel voted 14-to-2 on Wednesday that new drugs for type II diabetes should be put to longer-term cardiovascular trials to verify that they don't increase the risk of heart problems. The FDA isn't required to follow the panel's recommendations, but it typically does. GlaxoSmithKline, which makes diabetes drug Avandia, added $1.68, or 3.7%, to $46.86. Byetta developer Amylin (AMLN) fell 2.7%, to $24.81, while its partner Eli Lilly (LLY) gained 1.9% to $46.95.

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