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Health Winners & Losers: Nuvelo

Nuvelo rises on merger news.

Health stocks followed the broader markets higher Thursday on overall light news in the sector. The Nasdaq and Amex biotechnology indices added 1.6% and 1.2%, respectively.

Small-cap stock



and privately held

ARCA biopharma

said Thursday they entered into a merger agreement to create a late-stage biotechnology company. ARCA develops genetically targeted therapies for heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases. Among other things, Nuvelo will gain Gencaro, a genetically engineered beta blocker to treat heart failure. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to make an approval decision on Gencaro by May 31, 2009.

Arca will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Nuvelo. Under the agreement, ARCA stockholders will get roughly 67% of the common stock of the merged company. Current Nuvelo shareholders are expected to own the other 33%. Nuvelo shares rose two pennies, or 5%, at 42 cents.

A couple of analyst actions boosted some stocks in the space. Lazard analyst Joel Sendek upgraded

Biogen Idec


to buy from hold, projecting continued sales growth in multiple sclerosis drugs Tysabri and Avonex. Sendek says the current share price may present an entry point. Biogen shares climbed $2.11, or 4.5%, to $48.83.

Meanwhile, Jeffries & Co. analyst Adam Walsh reiterated a buy rating for

Cypress BioSciences


, saying it is likely the company will receive a positive decision from the FDA on its lead product, milnacipran, for patients with fibromyalgia.

Forest Laboratories


licenses Cypress' drug in the U.S. and Canada.

Cypress shares rose 73 cents, or 12%, to $6.70. Forest added 14 cents, or 0.5%, at $28.10.

In other news,

PDL BioPharma


said Thursday its board of directors named Faheem Hasnain president and chief executive of

Facet Biotech Corp.

, its planned spinoff company. Hasnain previously worked at

Bristol-Myers Squibb





in various positions. He was most recently executive vice president of the oncology and rheumatology strategic business unit at Biogen Idec, where he worked from 2004 to 2008.

PDL shares edged up 12 cents, or 1.3%, at $9.22.