Medical-equipment maker Urologix ( ULGX) named a new chief financial officer. Effective Friday, Elissa J. Lindsoe will head all treasury, investor relations, human resources, customer service, order management and information technology functions, the company said in a press release. Shares rose 4 cents to $2.84. Biogen Idec ( BIIB) and Elan ( ELN) presented new data this week showing that Tysabri improved the cognitive function of multiple sclerosis patients and had a sustained effect on relapse rates. A study of the drug's long-term effects estimated that patients on Tysabri would have an average of one relapse every 4.3 years. Separately, according to new data from the Affirm trial presented Thursday, treatment with Tysabri alone significantly reduced the number of MS patients experiencing worsening scores on certain tests measuring their cognitive abilities. Biogen Idec's shares were down 10 cents, or 0.2%, at $44.64. Elan slipped 6 cents, or 0.4%, to $15.42. European regulators cleared an antismoking pill made by drug giant Pfizer ( PFE) about four months after it was given the green light in the U.S. The approval of the drug, called Champix in Europe, was based on clinical trials involving 4,000 smokers who smoked an average of 21 cigarettes a day for an average of 25 years. Champix was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for smoking cessation in May under the brand name Chantix. Pfizer was up 20 cents to $28.50.
Shares of Corcept Therapeutics ( CORT) plummeted after the company said a late-stage clinical trial intended to prove the effectiveness of its treatment for psychotic major depression missed its goal. In one of three phase III trials, the drug, Corlux, failed to improve a target number of patients' scores on a psychiatric-symptoms rating scale by 50%, the study's main target. Shares slumped 40 cents, or 31%, to 91 cents on trading volume that was much heavier than normal. Labopharm ( DDSS) plunged 21% after getting a Food and Drug Administration approvable letter for its once-daily formulation of arthritis pain drug tramadol. The Laval, Quebec, company said the product is approvable subject to the resolution of certain issues. The company plans to discuss the letter with the FDA as soon as possible and believes that it can address the issues raised in the letter without the need for additional data. Shares fell $1.56 to $5.75. Amgen ( AMGN) agreed to buy Avidia, a privately held biopharmaceutical company, in a $290 million deal. Amgen will also pay up to $90 million if Avidia achieves certain milestones. Shares of Amgen were up 12 cents, or 0.2%, at $71.67. Merck ( MRK) has pushed back the date it plans to file for approval of an experimental heart-disease fighter, saying it won't seek clearance in 2007.
The treatment is currently referred to as MK-0524B. The product combines an investigational compound being developed for the treatment of atherosclerosis and Zocor, a cholesterol-lowering drug. Shares were losing 28 cents, or 0.7%, to $41.78. Eli Lilly ( LLY) said it's weighing its options for the future of ruboxistaurin mesylate, an experimental treatment for diabetic retinopathy, in light of a request by the Food and Drug Administration for an additional phase III clinical trial. The FDA said it wants additional efficacy data before it will consider approving the molecule for the treatment of moderate to severe nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy. Lilly believes the trial would require up to five years to complete. For now, Lilly doesn't plan to withdraw the drug's application. Shares of Lilly were lower by 49 cents, or 0.9%, to $56.83. Other health stocks moving included Genentech ( DNA), up 1.1% to $83.10, Bayer ( BAY), whose shares gained 1% to $51.01, Alpharma ( ALO), jumping 10.5% to $23.86, Kos Pharmaceuticals ( KOSP), 6.8% higher to $50.18, and AVI Biopharma ( AVII), up 6% to $3.73. Hollis-Eden Pharmaceuticals ( HEPH) was down 5.7% to $5.50, DepoMed ( DEPO) was off 6% to $4.10, SkyePharma ( SKYE) was 7.2% lower to $4.51, and Keryx Biopharmaceuticals ( KERX) was down 1% to $11.89.