Shares of QLT ( QLTI) were among the worst-performing health-related stocks Thursday, dropping 11% after the biopharmaceutical company cut its sales forecast for its Visudyne eye treatment and laid out plans to eliminate up to 46% of its work force. The company expects the job cuts -- and other restructuring plans -- to result in annual savings of about $10 million. QLT now sees 2005 Visudyne sales of $480 million to $485 million, down from an earlier forecast of $500 million to $530 million. QLT said the reduced forecast stems from near-term pressure on U.S. sales, caused by increased competition. The company plans to take a restructuring charge of about $5 million to $6 million during the fourth quarter of 2005. QLT also plans to double the number of shares that it can buy as part of its share repurchase plan, which was initiated in May. The company intends to increase its buyback plan to $100 million from $50 million. Shares were trading down 75 cents to $6.25. Hi-Tech Pharmacal ( HITK) rose 8% after the drug maker posted solid second-quarter results. The company earned $3.1 million, or 35 cents a share, up from $2.3 million, or 27 cents a share, a year ago. Sales, meanwhile, rose to $21.6 million from $16.7 million a year ago. A single analyst polled by Thomson First Call expected earnings of 30 cents a share and sales of $19.3 million. "We are very pleased with the second-quarter results," the company said. "Our generic business remains strong as we continue to see demand for many of the products launched in recent quarters." For 2006, Hi-Tech Pharmacal sees sales growth of 15% to 20%. Shares traded up $3 to $41.52. Shares of Neurogen ( NRGN) rose 9% after the company said its insomnia drug performed well in a Phase I trial. The biotech company said NG2-73 was safe and well tolerated. What's more, the company said that study investigators observed sleepiness among treated subjects. The study aimed to evaluate the safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of increasing oral doses of the drug given over a period of five days. "We're moving rapidly toward the initiation of our phase II transient insomnia trial with our immediate release tablet formulation," the company said. Neurogen shares were up 71 cents to $8.24.
Draxis Health ( DRAX) rose 2% after the pharmaceutical company said that it plans to repurchase up to 10% of its 35.2 million outstanding shares. The company "believes that the underlying value of the company is not reflected in the current market price of its common shares and has thus concluded that the repurchase of common shares" is in the best interests of its shareholders. Shares were trading up 9 cents to $4.09. Shares of Laboratory Corp. of America ( LH) rose 5% after the clinical laboratory company said that it would buy up to $500 million in stock as part of a repurchase plan. LabCorp will immediately purchase 4.8 million shares for $250 million. The remaining purchases under the buyback plan will be made from time to time in the open market. "The purpose of LabCorp's stock repurchase program is consistent with its goal of making investments of the company's cash resources that enhance shareholder value," the company said. Separately, the company announced plans to sell up to $250 million in senior notes due 2015. LabCorp plans to use proceeds from the notes sale, along with cash on hand, to repay debt under its senior credit facility. The credit line will be used for the buyback. Shares were up $2.45 to $54.49. Other health care volume movers included Pfizer ( PFE), down 14 cents to $20.96; Elan ( ELN), up 58 cents to $12.61; Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ), up 40 cents to $60.44; Merck ( MRK), down 16 cents $30.13; Guidant ( GDT), up 74 cents to $67.27; Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ( TEVA), up 54 cents to $43.99; Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY), up 10 cents to $21.64; UnitedHealth Group ( UNH), up 14 cents to $62.75; and Schering-Plough ( SGP), up 5 cents to $19.25.