Shares of drug giant Merck ( MRK - Get Report) rose after the company said its experimental drug Janumet significantly reduced blood-sugar levels in diabetes patients. While most treatments for type 2 diabetes reduce glucose levels either after meals or in between meals, Merck's drug was shown to reduce both measures. Shares rose 1.5% to $45.35. Sanofi-Aventis ( SNY - Get Report) said a new study found that its drug Acomplia improved blood-sugar control and weight in patients with type 2 diabetes. The treatment also proved to benefit good cholesterol and triglycerides when compared with a placebo. The participants in the study weren't being treated with other antidiabetic medications. Shares were up 2.6% to $45.10. Aspect Medical Systems' ( ASPM) shares jumped 4.6% to $19.34 after the company announced a licensing agreement with Mindray Medical International ( MR - Get Report) for the use of its technology in Mindray's patient monitoring systems. Savient Pharmaceuticals ( SVNT) was granted a temporary restraining order against sales of a generic version of one of its drugs by Novartis ( NVS - Get Report) subsidiary Sandoz Pharmaceuticals and Upsher-Smith Laboratories for infringing a on number of patents on its weight-gain drug Oxandrin. Also, under the terms of the order, Savient will not launch sales of its own authorized generic version of the drug, with Watson Pharmaceuticals ( WPI) but it will continue to market its Oxandrin branded drug. Shares were up 2 cents to $11.65. Edwards Lifesciences ( EW) says it's cutting 70 jobs and will discontinue its Optiwave 980 Cardiac Laser Ablation System and focus its resources on its core heart valve and transcatheter aortic valve businesses. Shares dipped 12 cents, or 0.3% to $46.61.
Somaxon Pharmaceuticals' ( SOMX) pathological gambling drug failed to show a significant difference from a placebo after 12 weeks of treatment in clinical trials, the company announced. Shares were up 5 cents, or 0.4%, to $14 after falling earlier in the day. Among other health stocks falling were Geron ( GERN), down 2.2% to $8.80, Dynavax Technologies ( DVAX), 2% lower to $9.27, Coley Pharmaceutical ( COLY), falling 3.1% to $11.33, Durect ( DRRX), down 4.4% to $4.78, and Biogen Idec ( BIIB), off 0.8% to $51.35. Among those rising were Genentech ( DNA), up 1.1% to $83.79, Wyeth ( WYE), up 0.9% to $49.78, Novo Nordisk ( NVO), gaining 3.9% to $83.12, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals ( ALNY), up 3% to $22.40, and Nektar Therapeutics ( NKTR), rising 1.8% to $17.31.