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Today's Health Winners and Losers

Aspreva Pharmaceuticals soars after previewing better-than-expected sales for the end of 2005.

Shares of

Aspreva Pharmaceuticals

(ASPV)

were among the best-performing health-related stocks Thursday, soaring 22% after the Canadian drug developer previewed better-than-expected fourth-quarter and 2005 sales.

The company expects to report full-year sales of $76 million, well above the $65 million to $70 million it previously forecast. For the fourth quarter, the company estimates sales of $45 million. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call projected fourth-quarter sales of $31.4 million and full-year sales of $64.9 million. Shares were trading up $4.42 to $24.41.

NutriSystem

(NTRI) - Get Nutrisystem, Inc. Report

tumbled 17% after the company forecast weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings. The company, which saw its stock jump over 1000% during 2005, estimates earnings of 16 cents a share on sales of $69 million to $70 million. Analysts predict earnings of 17 cents a share and sales of $62.5 million.

Looking ahead, NutriSystem sees first-quarter earnings of 35 cents to 38 cents a share on sales of $115 million to $120 million. Analysts project earnings of 33 cents a share on sales of $98.1 million. NutriSystem is scheduled to report its fourth-quarter results on Feb. 21. Shares were trading down $8.28 to $41.25.

Shares of

MedImmune

(MEDI)

fell 5% after the company posted lower-than-expected fourth-quarter revenue and issued mixed 2006 guidance. The company reported a loss of $22.4 million, or 9 cents a share, on revenue of $492 million. Excluding items, the company earned $21.4 million, or 8 cents a share. Analysts expected earnings of 5 cents a share and revenue of $516.4 million. During the year-earlier period, the company earned $50.5 million, or 20 cents a share, on revenue of $465.8 million. Excluding items, the company earned $54.9 million, or 21 cents a share, a year ago.

For 2006, MedImmune sees earnings of 40 cents to 45 cents a share, excluding stock-based compensation costs, on sales of about $1.4 billion. Analysts predict earnings of 46 cents a share and sales of $1.39 billion. Shares were trading down $1.56 to $32.92.

Hollis-Eden Pharmaceuticals

(HEPH)

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slumped 15% after the pharmaceutical company said it would sell 4 million shares of stock at $6.50 apiece. The price represents an 11% discount to Wednesday's closing price of $7.22. The company also plans to issue investors four-year warrants to buy up to an additional 800,000 shares at $8.75 a share. The sale is expected to close around Monday. Shares were down $1.08 to $6.14.

Shares of

Ista Pharmaceuticals

(ISTA)

climbed 12% after the specialty pharmaceutical company announced positive results from a Phase III bioequivalence study of its product for the treatment of eye inflammation and infection. The drug, which combines tobramycin and prednisolone acetate, demonstrated that it was bioequivalent to taking each product separately. The trial's secondary endpoints were achieved as well, showing that the combination product and prednisolone acetate, an anti-inflammatory agent, had similar maximum concentrations. The time to reach maximum concentration was identical for both, the company said. Based on the results, Ista said it plans to submit a new drug application for its combination product during the first half of 2006. Shares were trading up 86 cents to $8.04.

Other health care volume movers included

Genta

(GNTA)

, up 52 cents to $3.28;

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report

, down 32 cents to $25.73;

Amgen

(AMGN) - Get Amgen Inc. Report

, down $1.40 to $74.59;

Elan

(ELN)

, down 29 cents to $15.61;

Bristol-Myers Squibb

(BMY) - Get Bristol-Myers Squibb Company Report

, down 51 cents to $22.51;

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Johnson & Johnson Report

, down 22 cents to $57.64;

Boston Scientific

(BSX) - Get Boston Scientific Corporation Report

, down 1 cent to $21.88;

Merck

(MRK) - Get Merck & Co., Inc. Report

, down 44 cents to $34.22 and

Gilead Sciences

(GILD) - Get Gilead Sciences, Inc. Report

, down 93 cents to $60.58.