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Updated from 1:52 p.m. EDT

Pharmaceutical stocks rallied Monday, benefiting from positive earnings and merger news in the sector.

Drugmaker

Eli Lilly

(LLY) - Get Eli Lilly and Company Report

topped analysts' first-quarter expectations and said it should earn $3.30 to $3.40 a share for the full year, up from its earlier target of $3.25 to $3.35. The stock was up $1.52, or 2.7%, to $58.40.

While Friedman Billings and Prudential downgraded shares of

MedImmune

( MEDI), billionaire investor Carl Icahn said he will not oppose a sale of biotech drug maker. MedImmune was up $1.25, or 2.8%, to $45.44.

Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley upgraded

Amgen

(AMGN) - Get Amgen Inc. Report

to overweight from equal-weight. Amgen tacked on 62 cents, or 1.1%, to $59.65.

Biotech company

TheStreet Recommends

Antigenics

(AGEN) - Get Agenus Inc. Report

surged 20.7% after its Oncophage cancer vaccine showed positive results in a clinical trial as a treatment for brain cancer. Previously, Oncophage failed as a treatment for kidney cancer. Antigenics climbed 76 cents to $4.43.

Several health-care-related indices were buoyed by the headlines. The Amex Pharmaceutical Index rose 1%, the Philadelphia Stock Exchange Drug Index rose 1%, and the Amex Biotechnology Index was up 0.7%.

One of few losers of the session was

Quest Diagnostics

(DGX) - Get Quest Diagnostics Incorporated Report

, which slid 4.8% after the company said it will acquire AmeriPath, a closely held diagnostics company owned by Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe, for $1.23 billion. Shares were off $2.62 at $51.69.

Among other decliners,

Human Genome Sciences

( HGSI) slid 3.4% to $11.12, and

Dendreon

(DNDN)

shed 8.9% to $15.72.