Thursday's Health Winners & Losers

MedcoHealth Solutions moves higher on news of a federal contract.
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A federal contract, analyst reviews and positive study announcements tugged health stocks in both directions Thursday.

Pharmacy benefit manager

MedcoHealth Solutions

(MHS)

climbed 3.2% a day after announcing it had scored a

contract to manage the mail-order pharmacy business for the Federal Employees Program (FEP). Caremark -- now part of the recent

CVS Caremark

(CVS) - Get Report

merger -- used to hold the portion Medco won, but continues to manage FEP's retail pharmacy claims, a $4 billion part of the contract. Medco was up $2.51, to $79.60, while CVS Caremark was up 79 cents, or 2.1%, to $39.04.

Analysts reviews nudged a few other stocks down a bit.

Wachovia downgraded

PDL BioPharma

(PDLI) - Get Report

from outperform to market perform on Thursday. The stock was down $1.56, or 5.8%, to $25.26.

Analyst Jonathan Aschoff, from Brean Murray, Carret & Co., said he expects negative phase III clinical trial data on

Neurochem's

(NRMX)

Alzhemed, an Alzheimer's disease treatment candidate. The biopharmaceutical company dropped $1.32, or 17.6%, to $6.19 on Thursday.

PDL BioPharma and Neurochem are both components of the Nasdaq biotechnology index, which was down 14.93, or 1.8%, to 811.66.

Also down,

Agilent

(A) - Get Report

said Thursday it completed the purchase of Stratagene, a company that makes specialized life science research and diagnostic products, for $250 million. Subsequently, Agilent increased its guidance for third-quarter revenue to between $1.38 billion and $1.42 billion, from between $1.36 billion and $1.4 billion. The company's stock was down 83 cents, or 2.2%, to $37.54.

Other companies had positive study news on Thursday, though some were down regardless.

Inovio Biomedical's

(INO) - Get Report

partner

Vical

presented positive interim safety and tolerability data from an ongoing phase I clinical trial. The study uses Inovio's technology to deliver plasmid DNA that produces a hormone, Interleukin-2 (IL-2), into melanoma tumors. The company's stock was up 13 cents, or 4.8%, to $2.86.

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

said that results from a phase II study showed that MK-0974, an investigational drug, significantly improved migraine pain relief after two hours compared to a placebo, and the relief lasted for 24 hours. The drug is in phase III clinical development for the acute treatment of migraine pain in adults and the company said that if it's approved, it may be the first in a new class of migraine treatments since the approval of the first triptan drug in 1991. Merck's shares were down 30 cents, or 0.6%, to $50.46.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries

(TEVA) - Get Report

was down 1% to $38.92 even though the company and Active Biotech said Thursday that they're initiating a late-stage clinical program for Iaquinimod, a once-a-day oral treatment for relapsing multiple sclerosis (RMS). The companies will begin two global phase III trials this year to confirm the results of the phase II trials.