Updated from 2:46 p.m. ESTShares of Neoforma ( NEOF) were among the best-performing health-related stocks Wednesday, rising 16.6% after the company said it hired Merrill Lynch to help explore strategic alternatives. The provider of information systems used by the health care industry said alternatives include a possible sale or merger of the company. The move is being made "in order to achieve greater stockholder value," the company said. Neoforma said that any transaction would likely require the consent of VHA and the University HealthSystem Consortium, two health care alliances that own - on a combined basis -- a majority of Neoforma's outstanding shares. VHA and UHC are the owners of Novation, Neoforma's largest customer. Shares traded up $1.16 to $8.13. Bradley Pharmaceuticals ( BDY) rose 4.2% Wednesday, despite lowering its 2005 earnings and sales guidance. The company now expects earnings of $1.63 a share on sales of $173 million. Previously, it expected earnings of $1.90 a share on sales of $190 million. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call had been expecting earnings of $1.68 a share on sales of $171.5 million. The weaker outlook was attributed to quicker market erosion of AnaMantle hemorrhoid therapy, as a result of recently introduced comparable products, and early competition for Keralac Nail Gel and Keralac Lotion. The company is requesting an expedited review by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for its pending patent application relating to Keralac products. "Although the company cannot be certain that this patent will issue, the company believes that the product is patentable and that, if issued, the patent will provide the company with certain protection for Keralac products in the marketplace," the company said. Shares traded up 62 cents to $15.56. Shares of Ista Pharmaceuticals ( ISTA) fell 7.4% after the company said it would sell 4.5 million shares of stock to the public. Banc of America Securities and Thomas Weisel Partners are leading the underwriting syndicate. The shares are being sold pursuant to an existing and effective shelf registration. Shares traded down 74 cents to $9.26.