Updated from 2:54 p.m. ESTShares of Progenics Pharmaceuticals ( PGNX) were among the best-performing health-related stocks Thursday, rising 12.7% after the company said its post-operative bowel dysfunction drug showed promising results in a phase II clinical trial. Patients who received methylnaltrexone (MNTX) following major abdominal surgery showed an acceleration of gastrointestinal recovery by at least one day on average compared to a placebo. One of the principal investigators in the study said that "effective management of post-operative bowel dysfunction is a major unmet need, and these data suggest that MNTX offers the potential to shorten hospital stays for millions of patients who undergo major abdominal surgery each year." MNTX was generally well tolerated in the study, the company said. Currently, there is no approved therapy for post-operative bowel dysfunction. Shares traded up $1.92 to $17.10. AVI BioPharma ( AVII) fell 26.6% after the company announced the sale of 8 million shares of stock at $3 apiece. Investors will also receive four-year warrants to buy another 1.6 million shares at $5 apiece. Proceeds from the sale will be used to fund AVI's operations and ongoing clinical programs. News of the stock sale came after the closing bell Wednesday, less than nine hours after the company said it received patents covering preservation and expansion of stem cells using the company's neugene antisense agents. The patent news sent shares of AVI soaring more than 100% on Wednesday. Shares traded down $1.10 to $3.04 on Thursday. Shares of Meridian Bioscience ( VIVO) fell 10.7% after the company missed first-quarter earnings and sales targets. The diagnostic test-kit maker earned $2.11 million, or 14 cents a share, on sales of $18.8 million. The one analyst polled by Thomson First Call was expecting earnings of 17 cents a share on sales of $21.3 million. A year ago Meridian earned $1.8 million, or 12 cents a share, on sales of $18.2 million. Looking ahead, Meridian reaffirmed its 2005 earnings forecast of 66 cents to 70 cents a share on sales of $84 million to $88 million. Shares traded down $1.90 to $15.85.
Orphan Medical ( ORPH) rose 2.8% after the drugmaker said it expects 2004 sales to exceed $23.7 million, which is in line with its previous guidance of $23 million to $24 million. Orphan expects 2005 sales to exceed $35 million. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call are expecting 2004 sales of $24.1 million and 2005 sales of $35.7 million. Shares traded up 24 cents to $8.75. Shares of Parexel International ( PRXL) rose 8.9% after the company posted second-quarter earnings and sales that topped expectations. The biopharmaceutical outsourcing company posted earnings of $6.1 million, or 23 cents a share, on sales of $137.9 million. Analysts were expecting earnings of 22 cents a share on sales of $136.4 million. Looking ahead, Parexel forecast third-quarter earnings of 25 cents to 27 cents a share on sales of $145 million to $150 million. Analysts had been expecting earnings of 26 cents a share on sales of $144.9 million. Shares traded up $1.85 to $22.65. Other health care movers included Aastrom Biosciences ( ASTM), down 15 cents to $3.90; Pfizer ( PFE), up 10 cents to $24.98; StemCells ( STEM), down 8 cents to $6.18; Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY), down 8 cents to $24.44; Merck ( MRK), down 29 cents to $30.73; Amgen ( AMGN), down 92 cents to $62.56; and Schering-Plough ( SGP), up 9 cents to $20.06.