Friday's Health Winners & Losers

EpiCept soars on positive data for cancer treatment Azixa.
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Updated from 1:57 p.m. EDT

Health care and pharmaceutical stocks generally tracked the broader market higher Friday, with

EpiCept

(EPCT)

helping to lead the charge with a 10.6% surge in shares.

EpiCept released study results that indicate its cancer drug Azixa is effective in treating multiple types of human tumors in mice. The data appear in the June 15 edition of

Cancer Research

. EpiCept, which licenses Azixa to

Myriad Genetics

(MYGN) - Get Report

, said the drug is undergoing evaluation in two phase II clinical trials, one in patients with primary brain cancer and the other in brain metastases due to melanoma. Shares of EpiCept closed up 23 cents at $2.41, while Myriad closed up 75 cents, or 2%, at $38.02.

Also getting a boost from the release of study results Friday was

Novartis

(NVS) - Get Report

, which rose 1.8% on news its painkiller lumiracoxib had less impact on blood pressure than ibuprofen in patients with osteoarthritis. The results, presented today at the Annual European Congress of Rheumatology in Barcelona, are important, said Novartis, because some 40% of patients with osteoarthritis also have high blood pressure. The cox-2 inhibitor is currently under review in the U.S. to treat osteoarthritis. Shares of the Swiss drugmaker closed up $1 at $55.96.

Analyst upgrades also helped lift the sector.

Kendle International

(KNDL)

surged 7.4% after Jefferies & Co. upgraded shares of the clinical research to buy from hold. Cowen & Co. upgraded reproductive diagnostics company

Inverness Medical Innovations

(IMA)

to neutral from underperform. Kendle closed up $2.49 to $36.20, and Inverness was up 85 cents, or 1.7%, at $51.06.

The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index was up 1.1%, the Amex Biotechnology Index was up 1.2%, and the Amex Pharmaceutical Index was up 1%.

Among the losers Friday, however, was

Dusa Pharmaceuticals

(DUSA) - Get Report

, which the day before had named its new chief executive. Robert Doman, the dermatology pharmaceutical company's president, was elected by the board to serve as CEO. He succeeds company founder D. Geoffrey Shulman, who will continue on as chairman and will also serve as chief strategic officer. Dusa slipped 27 cents, or 7.1%, to $3.55.

Encysive

(ENCY)

was also losing ground as

investors awaited news on Thelin, its new treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to release its decision about whether Encysive can start selling the drug in the U.S. Shares closed down 50 cents, or 10.9%, at $4.10.

Celgene

(CELG) - Get Report

was moving on news inadvertently released and then retracted by the biopharmaceutical company. Celgene issued a press release announcing its Revlimid (lenalidomide) had received full marketing authorization for treatment of multiple myeloma in the EU, but in a retraction it said the drug remains under review by European regulators and has not been approved. Celgene closed up 51 cents, or 0.9%, at $60.08.