Shares of Inspire Pharmaceuticals were among the worst-performing health-related stocks Friday, plunging 35% after the Food and Drug Administration failed for the second time to approve the company's dry-eye treatment. The FDA letter said Inspire's "clinical studies fail to demonstrate adequate replication of results for the efficacy endpoints and therefore are insufficient to establish efficacy." The FDA went on to say that "consistent findings of corneal clearing need to be demonstrated to support the efficacy of the drug product." Inspire now plans talks with the FDA to discuss how to move forward with its application. Inspire also plans to meet with its development partner, Allergan ( AGN - Get Report), to discuss strategies for the program. "Though the development of pharmaceuticals to treat dry eye disease is challenging, we still believe that diquafosol could potentially provide a valuable addition to the spectrum of treatments available to patients suffering from dry eye," said Scott Withcup, Allergan's executive vice president research and development. Shares of Inspire recently were trading down $2.60 to $4.83. Allergan shares weren't affected by the news, rising 79 cents to $100.41. Ventiv Health jumped 13% after the provider of clinical services to the pharmaceutical industry backed its 2005 and 2006 guidance. The company also said that one of its largest clients indicated that Ventiv's sales team would remain in place through 2006. A second client, meanwhile, committed to expand Ventiv's existing team by 100 sales representatives. "We are extremely pleased that one of our most significant clients has preliminarily indicated that our existing sales team will remain in place through the full year 2006," Ventiv said. The company reiterated its forecast for 2005 earnings of $1.44 to $1.46 a share and sales of $525 million to $530 million. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call expect earnings of $1.46 a share for 2005 and sales of $528.6 million. Ventiv also remains comfortable with its 2006 projections for earnings of $1.35 to $1.40 a share and sales of $650 million to $670 million. Wall Street sees 2006 earnings of $1.40 a share, with sales of $666.2 million. Ventiv shares were up $3.09 to $26.29.
Shares of Genesis Healthcare ( GHCI) slumped 10% after the company posted fourth-quarter results that disappointed investors. The company reported earnings from continuing operations of $9.5 million, or 48 cents a share, on sales of $420.8 million. The results included charges of 9 cents a share. A higher tax rate, resulting from changes in the amount of permanent deductions, cut earnings by another 2 cents a share. Analysts expected earnings of 63 cents a share and sales of $408.5 million. Genesis said results were hurt by softness in its rehabilitation services business. A year ago, the company reported earnings of $10.5 million, or 52 cents a share, on sales of $397.3 million. Genesis sees 2006 earnings of $2.10 to $2.15 a share, including costs of about 10 cents a share related to the expensing of stock options. Analysts expect earnings of $2.42 a share. The company's shares recently traded at $37.05, down $4.17. Biopure tumbled 8% after the drug company said it plans to sell 8.8 million shares in a public offering, and sell warrants to purchase an additional 8.8 million shares of stock. Biopure plans to use proceeds from the offering to fund general corporate and working capital needs. Dawson James Securities and Noble International Investments are co-managing the offering. Shares were trading down 8 cents to 90 cents. Other health care volume movers included Pfizer ( PFE), down 12 cents to $21.26; Zimmer Holdings ( ZMH), up $5.92 to $70.14; Boston Scientific ( BSX - Get Report), up $1.02 to $27.70; Stryker ( SYK), up $2.60 to $46.50; SFBC International , up $2.30 to $17.94; Schering-Plough , up 12 cents to $19.17; Bristol-Myers Squibb , up 22 cents to $21.85; Wyeth ( WYE), up 12 cents to $41.32; BioCryst Pharmaceuticals ( BCRX), down 23 cents to $14.60; Merck ( MRK), up 29 cents $29.97; Novavax ( NVAX), down 24 cents to $3.44; Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ), down 11 cents to $61.58; and Amgen ( AMGN), down $1.22 to $80.42.