Updated from 2:30 p.m. EDT with new stock prices
Health insurance stocks tanked and
slid on buzz about an upcoming FDA panel meeting, but biotech and pharma stocks overall saw green amid a broader market rally Tuesday.
The health insurers were lower after
slashed its 2008 outlook based on rising medical costs, weak enrollment and a weak economy. The stock plunged $18.66, or 28.3%, to $47.26.
The lowered guidance sent rival insurers tumbling as well.
fell $15.32, or 24.4%, to $47.38;
slid $6.83, or 15.2%, at $38.24; and
fell $4.22, or 9.8%, to $38.76.
also took a hit, even though the insurer reiterated guidance for first-quarter operating earnings of 92 cents a share and full-year operating earnings of $4 a share. The forecast is a bit shy of analysts' expectations of 93 cents a share in the first quarter and $4.04 a share in 2008. Aetna fell $3.86, or 8.3%, to $42.65.
Elsewhere, the FDA posted documents online Tuesday ahead of Thursday's panel on drugs like Amgen's Aranesp and Epogen and
Johnson & Johnson's
Procrit, which are used to treat anemia in chemotherapy patients.
The panel will address safety concerns that have appeared clinical trials, including blood clots, progression of tumors, and death. Among the options for dealing with safety risks of the drugs, regulators included withdrawing their use for chemotherapy patients altogether. The brief prompted responses from both
Johnson & Johnson and
Amgen on Tuesday.
Amgen shares were down 6 cents, or 0.1%, at $44.62, but Johnson & Johnson's shares edged up $1.11, or 1.8%, to $62.44.
The upcoming panel did little to scare the overall health indices, which were climbing as a liquidity-infusing plan from the Federal Reserve lifted the broader market. The Nasdaq biotechnology index, Amex pharmaceutical index, and Amex biotechnology index -- which each include Amgen as a component -- edged up 2.5%, 1.9% and 1.7%, respectively.
Elsewhere, in medical devices,
( DSCP) said Tuesday it will sell its Patient Monitoring business to
Mindray Medical International
for $202 million in cash at the closing. Datascope will retain roughly $38 million of receivables generated by the business.
The deal, expected to close in the second quarter, propelled Datascope higher by $4.75, or 14.2%, to $38.28. Mindray slipped $1.84, or 6.3%, to $27.37.