Thursday's Health Winners & Losers

MGI Pharma climbs on word it's seeking 'strategic alternatives.'
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For-sale signs, buyouts and new partnerships lifted biotech trading volume and launched a few stocks Thursday.

MGI Pharma

(MOGN)

said in a statement Thursday that management has hired Lehman Brothers to help it evaluate strategic alternatives.

Amgen

(AMGN) - Get Report

and

Bristol-Meyers Squibb

(BMY) - Get Report

have been among the rumored prospective buyers of the company, whose products include blood-disorder drug Dacogen and chemotherapy-induced nausea preventive Aloxi. MGI, in a statement, declined to comment on rumors. Shares added $5.35, or 18.1%, to $34.90.

On the buyout topic,

Axcan Pharma

(AXCA)

, which specializes in treatments for gastrointestinal disorders, said Thursday that it agreed to be acquired by private equity firm TPG Capital in an all-cash transaction valued around $1.3 billion. TPG Capital will pay $23.35 a share, a 28% premium over the average trading price of Axcan's common shares on Nov. 28. Axcan expects that the transaction, which was unanimously approved by the board, will be completed in the first calendar quarter of 2008, subject to shareholder approval. Shares surged $4.36, or 24%, to $22.57.

Also on the rise was

Regeneron

(REGN) - Get Report

, shares of which garnered $4.86, or 28.3%, to $21.80 on news that it

strengthened its ties with

Sanofi-Aventis

(SNY) - Get Report

. Sanofi now holds a 19% stake in the company, up from a prior 4% stake. The team's new collaboration will use Regeneron technology to discover and develop fully humanized antibody drugs.

Regeneron and Axcan are both components of the Nasdaq biotechnology index, which was up 5.03, or 0.6%, to 860.25.

Elsewhere, UBS analyst Graig Suvannavejh upgraded

Nuvelo

(NUVO)

to buy from neutral based on the company's cash position and upcoming late-stage trial data. Disappointing results from lower-dose studies of the company's blood-clot drug alfimeprase sent the stock down more than $18 over the past year. The stock added 38 cents, or 25%, to $1.90 on Thursday.

Also on the rise,

Questor Pharmaceuticals

(QSC)

announced that it appointed Don Bailey as president and chief executive officer. Bailey has been the interim president of the company since May 2007. He's also non-executive chairman of STAAR Surgical. Shares gained 60 cents, or 12%, to $5.58.

On the dipping end,

Scolr Pharma

(DDD) - Get Report

said Thursday that it entered into agreements to sell around 2.8 million shares of common stock at $1.50 a share. Purchasers will also receive warrants to purchase a total of roughly 1.4 million shares. The five-year warrants will have an exercise price of $2.10 per share. Scolr's shares edged down 21 cents, or 12%, to $1.54.