Updated from 1:56 p.m. EDT

Shares of

ArthroCare

(ARTC)

were among the best-performing health and pharmaceutical stocks Wednesday, rising 11.3% after the company posted third-quarter earnings and sales above expectations.

The surgical products maker earned 16 cents a share on sales of $38.2 million. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 15 cents a share on sales of $37.8 million. The company said that strength in its sports medicine and spine business led to the strong quarterly results. Looking ahead, the company said that it expects full-year earnings of 52 cents to 56 cents a share. For 2005, it expects to meet or exceed analysts' earnings expectations of 84 cents a share. Shares traded up $3.04 to $30.02.

OraSure Technologies

(OSUR) - Get Report

rose 9.1% after the company announced the launch of its OraQuick HIV antibody test. Shipments are expected to begin in early November. The new product will be unveiled tomorrow at the United States Conference on AIDS in Philadelphia. Shares traded up 58 cents to $6.98.

Shares of

IMS Health

( RX) fell 7.2% after the company posted in-line third-quarter earnings and sales results. Excluding items, the health care information services company earned 30 cents a share on sales of $384 million. Analysts were expecting earnings of 30 cents a share on sales of $383 million. Looking ahead, the company said that it remains confident with full-year earnings guidance of $1.15 to $1.20 a share. Analysts are expecting earnings of $1.19 a share. Shares traded down $1.64 to $21.10.

Parexel

(PRXL)

fell 1.6% after the company posted mixed first-quarter results and cut its 2005 sales estimates. The biopharmaceutical outsourcing company earned 21 cents a share during the first quarter on consolidated services revenue of $131.5 million. Analysts were expecting earnings of 20 cents a share on sales of $141.4 million. Looking ahead, the company now expects to earn 99 cents to $1.07 a share on sales of $565 million to $585 million. Previously, it expected earnings of 98 cents to $1.08 a share on sales of $610 million to $630 million. Analysts had been expecting earnings of $1.01 a share on sales of $609.4 million. Shares traded down 30 cents to $18.95.

Other health care volume movers included

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

, down 70 cents to $28.30;

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

, up 24 cents to $31.40;

UnumProvident

(UNM) - Get Report

, up $1.36 to $13.55;

UnitedHealth Group

(UNH) - Get Report

, up $3.36 to $69.86; and

Anthem

(ATH) - Get Report

, up $2.53 to $76.23.