St. Jude Medical's ( STJ) shares gained 2.6% to $39.69 leading up to the company's quarterly earnings report slated for Thursday. A.G. Edwards analyst Jan Wald expects higher earnings in the third and fourth quarters, thanks to the company's new sales force.

Isis Pharmaceuticals ( ISIS) gained 2.6% to $10.67 after the company announced a private placement of its $125 million offering convertible subordinated notes due 2027. The company is also issuing an additional $37.5 million in notes at the initial purchasers' option.

Lexicon Genetics ( LEXG) shares gained 2.4% to $3.42 after the company said it's initiating a trial on a proposed treatment for irritable bowel syndrome and other gastrointestinal disorders. The drug, dubbed LX1031, will be tested for safety and efficacy in approximately 40 healthy volunteers.

Shares of Affymax ( AFFY) gained 5.9% to $34.96 after analysts at RBC Capital Markets and Cowen & Co. initiated coverage of the stock with outperform ratings. According to Cowen analyst Phil Nadeau, data on the company's drug Hematide show the drug is effective and safe. Nadeau expects the drug to enter the market as a treatment for kidney disease patients in 2010 and to treat cancer-related anemia in late in 2011.

Among other health stock winners Wednesday were Pfizer ( PFE), 1.3% higher to $26.71; Emergent BioSolutions ( EBS), gaining 8.6% to $17.38; NitroMed ( NTMD), soaring 14.7% to $3.43; Novogen ( NVGN), up 1.1% to $12.37; Cubist Pharmaceuticals ( CBST), rising 2.6% to $18.06; and Introgen Therapeutics ( INGN), whose shares were boosted 8.7% to $5.51.

Among the losers were The Medicines Co. ( MDCO), falling 3.6% to $29.33; Trinity Biotech ( TRIB), off 1% to $9.19; Geron ( GERN), 1.3% higher to $8.42 and Novo Nordisk ( NVO), down 1.2% to $84.80.

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