Health stocks generally rebounded Thursday, as the biotech sector slightly outpaced the broader markets.
The Nasdaq and Amex biotechnology indices were up 1.3% and 1%, respectively, while the Amex pharmaceutical index added a less-robust gain of 0.2%.
racked up 1.4%, 2.2% and 2.1% gains. These stocks were light on headlines, but others had news aplenty.
gave an update on two trials involving their Relistor for painkiller-induced constipation. Progenics gave positive results for an oral formulation of the drug in patients with chronic non-malignant pain, such as back pain and osteoarthritis, who were taking opioids for pain management. Positive The company also announced that a phase III trial in the intravenous formulation failed to meet primary or secondary endpoints, confirming an earlier study announced in March.
Progenics shares rose $1.29, or 9.8%, to $14.47, while Wyeth added 0.5% to $43.86.
shares added 93 cents, or 3.6%, to $27 on Thursday, rebounding somewhat from Wednesday's news that
would move its competing Hepatitis C drug into phase III development sooner than previously expected. Wall Street analysts reaffirmed expectations for Vertex's Telaprevir despite the acceleration of Schering's program.
"The one year plus time advantage that we believed Vertex had over Schering seems to have evaporated. With that said, we remain confident in the advantages that telaprevir has vs. boceprevir, and believe our modest out-year market projections are obtainable and realistic," wrote Susquehanna's Jason Kolbert. "As such, we are not backing off our Positive outlook for Vertex." Schering shares added 2.1% to $19.72.
On the deal front,
shares rose after the company announced an agreement with Danish company Lundbeck A/S worth up to $350 million. Lundbeck, which markets the second most prescribed Alzheimer's drug in Europe, Ebixa (called Namenda in the U.S.), will pay Myriad $100 million upfront for outside-the-U.S. rights to Myriad's late-stage Alzheimer's drug Flurizan.
Myriad shares added $2.14, or 4.7%, to $48.21.
One stock in the red,
shares edged down 1.2% to $19.78, after a
addressed disturbing side effects of its smoking-cessation drug Chantix and the subsequent decision by the FAA to ban the drug's use by pilots and air-traffic controllers.
According to the report, the drug is suspected in various adverse drug event reports, including serious accidents and falls, potentially lethal cardiac rhythm disturbances, seizures, psychosis, aggression and suicide, among other things. The Food and Drug Administration said in November that it was reviewing reports of erratic behavior and suicidal thoughts related to Chantix.