Shares of

Axcan Pharma

( AXCA) were among the best-performing health and pharmaceutical stocks Wednesday, rising 7.3% after the company announced positive cardiac safety results for its drug.

The study showed that Axcan's Itax tables, which are used to treat gastrointestinal disorder, showed "no toxic effects on the heart," even when it was administered at four times the intended therapeutic dosage. The company said that in light of the results, it could focus on executing the phase III clinical trial program, which will measure safety and effectiveness in treating functional dyspepsia. Shares traded up $1.30 to $19.13.

Genta

( GNTA) fell 4.3% after the company said it would sell 15 million shares of stock for $1.50 a share. The stock is being sold to two institutional investors and will result in $22.5 million in gross proceeds. The sale price represents a 19% discount to Tuesday's closing price of $1.85. Shares traded down 8 cents to $1.77.

Shares of

Syneron Medical

(ELOS)

rose 6.6% after the medical device maker increased its fourth-quarter sales estimate. The company now expects sales of $16.7 million, up from its previous guidance of $16.2 million. For 2005, the company put sales at $75 million, which would represent a 30% jump over anticipated sales of $58 million in 2004. Shares traded up $1.70 to $27.45.

Shares of

Charles River Laboratories International

(CRL) - Get Report

fell 5.2% after the company reaffirmed its fourth-quarter outlook but warned that earnings would come in at the low end of the company's guidance. Excluding items, the company, which breeds animals for use in drug research, said that it expects earnings of 46 cents to 48 cents a share, "although due to sales mix and higher-than-anticipated expenses including merger integration costs, earnings will be at the low end of the range," it said.

Sales are expected to grow by 44% to 47%, which would imply fourth-quarter sales of $224.7 million to $229.4 million. Analysts are expecting fourth-quarter earnings of 47 cents a share on sales of $230.3 million. Shares traded down $2.44 to $44.31.

Other health care volume movers included

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

, up 99 cents to $28.32;

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

, up 86 cents to $30.48;

Bristol-Myers Squibb

(BMY) - Get Report

, up 71 cents to $25.03;

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report

, down 53 cents to $60.90;

Schering-Plough

( SGP), up 41 cents to $19.95;

Amgen

(AMGN) - Get Report

, down 82 cents to $63.54; and

Nanogen

(NGEN)

, up 11 cents to $7.38.