Updated from 5:10 p.m. EDT
Health stocks were mixed Thursday on a smattering of news, including an announcement that
Johnson & Johnson
had raised its dividend.
Johnson & Johnson said that because of its performance in 2008 and generally strong financial position, it is raising its quarterly dividend 6.5% to 49 cents from 46 cents. The next quarterly dividend will be payable June 9 to shareholders of record as of May 26.
Johnson & Johnson's shares rose 0.4% to close at $51.40.
shareholders tentatively approved a "say on pay" proposal asking that they receive an advisory vote on executive compensation and a proposal to make it easier to call a special shareholder meeting, according to
The Associated Press
. Shares rose 1.8% to $13.28.
shares rose 1.1% to $23.23 after
announced a deal in which its customers can receive increased discounts on Merck's oral antidiabetes medications Januvia and Janumet.
Cigna said it will review available A1C lab values for people taking any oral antidiabetic medications. If these values have improved by the end of the year, the discounts Merck offers on Januvia and Janumet will increase. Cigna also will review claims data for its pharmacy customers who take Januvia or Janumet. If these customers are taking the drugs as prescribed, Cigna said, Merck will increase the discounts it offers Cigna on these medications even more.
In other diabetes drug news, the FDA said it
to review an application from
for their diabetes drug Onglyza. Bristol shares rose 1.8% to $20.17, and AstraZeneca shares rose 2% to $34.05.
shares were up 5.9% to $48.68 after European regulatory authorities issued a positive opinion on the diabetes drug Victoza.
on Thursday reported a 14% drop in first-quarter profit, citing currency shifts and costs related to its takeover of
. Novartis reported profit of $1.98 billion, compared with $2.3 billion in the same period a year ago. Shares were up 3.8% to $36.78 at the end of trading.
shares rose 1% to $21.89 after the company announced its experimental hepatitis C pill boceprevir helped reduce the virus in almost twice as many patients as existing drugs. Midstage study results showed that 75% to patients taking the along with other drugs saw their virus levels drop to undetectable levels. However, Schering reported a likely link between the drug and occurances of anemia. The company pointed out that anemia is a common side effect in existing hep c treatments.
Among other widely held health care stocks,
shares rose 0.4% to $32.88, and
shares fell 0.6% to $29.11.