Biotech stocks were higher Monday after the Food and Drug Administration blessed the widened use of Genentech's( DNA) Avastin cancer drug, a surprise move that boosted sentiment for the sector.
Shares of Genentech were climbing 8% after the FDA late Friday approved the use of Avastin in breast cancer. The accelerated approval was based on the benefits to progression-free survival -- the delayed growth of tumors -- when the drug is added to chemotherapy.
Avastin, currently a treatment for colorectal and non-small-cell lung cancers, is expected to receive full approval in breast cancer when the company submits data from two more studies. The approval came as something of a surprise, since an FDA panel voted 5-4 in December to recommend against the breast cancer approval.
Genentech shares were adding $6 to $77.60.
Also on the rise was
, which soared 39% to $18 after the company said its Acapodene drug was successful in reducing side effects of prostate cancer treatments in a late-stage study.
The stock helped to propel the Nasdaq biotechnology index, which was climbing 2.2%, to 788.87.
Heading in the opposite direction, small-cap
( IMM) plunged 45% after the company said it would discontinue the development program for pafuramidine, a late-stage investigational therapy for a type of pneumonia in AIDS patients. The action is in response to instances of abnormal kidney function, which resulted in hospitalization of several study participants.
Following the discontinuation of the study, Immtech won't receive further payments from Strativa, a division of
( PRX) that has commercialization rights to the drug candidate. Immtech shares tanked 90 cents to $1.10.
Elsewhere, shares of
( MLNM) added 6% after Friedman Billings Ramsey analyst James Reddoch maintained his $20 price target and outperform rating on the stock. He also gave a positive view of sales of the company's Velcade for multiple myeloma.
Reddoch predicted sales of the drug, which is approved as a second line treatment and up for approval as a first-line treatment this year, could beat the top end of Millennium's guidance. Shares of Millennium recently were up 79 cents to $14.12.
moved higher after announcing FDA approval for three products in its cardiac rhythm management business: Confient, an implantable cardioverter defibrillator to protect against sudden cardiac death; Livian, a device that provides resynchronization and defibrillation therapies; and an upgraded Latitude patient montitoring system.
Boston Scientific's shares were up 67 cents, or 5.4%, to $12.98.
said a Dutch court and a French court both ruled that the patent for Merck Sharp & Dohme -- a name used by New Jersey's
in many countries -- covering the use of osteoperosis drug Fosamax is invalid, although both decisions can be appealed.
The patent is the being debated in Belgium, France, Italy, Sweden and Spain in addition to the European patent office, according to Teva. Shares of the Israel-based company recently were up 37 cents, or 0.8%, at $49.21.