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Health Winners & Losers: AstraZeneca

After an early rally, health stocks closed Wednesday's trading session down.

In business news, Sigma-Aldrich (SIAL) and Sangamo BioSciences (SGMO) announced a research and license agreement with Roche wherein Roche will receive non-exclusive worldwide rights for the use of its zinc finger nuclease technology for cell lines and transgenic (or genetically modified) animals. Specific financial terms were not disclosed. Sangamo shares rose 15 cents, or 1.4%, to $10.82.

Wyeth (WYE) said on Wednesday that a U.S. District Court in Arkansas granted its motion for judgment regarding law on the punitive damages award in hormone therapy case Donna Scroggin v. Wyeth. The decision overturns punitive damages awarded by the Little Rock jury last year of $19.3 million and also clears the way for the company to appeal compensatory damages of $2.75 million, according to Wyeth. The new ruling also vacates the $7.76 million in punitive damages award against co-defendant Upjohn.

Wyeth shares traded down 93 cents, or 1.9%, at $48.55.

Elsewhere, AstraZeneca (AZN)-owned MedImmune won a federal contract, valued at a maximum of $28.4 million, to provide military agencies with its intranasal spray flu vaccine, FluMist. The vaccines, which are being stockpiled in case of an epidemic will last through June of next year. AstraZeneca's shares traded up 58 cents, or 1.2%, to $47.80.

Meanwhile, Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson said in a note to investors that Schering-Plough (SGP) and Merck (MRK) may release data from the SEAS trial on controversial cholesterol drug Vytorin at the American Heart Association annual meeting in November. Although, he notes, neither company has yet said when the data will come out.

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