Biotech stocks were largely flat Monday, as research-and-development successes and ratings upgrades edged some players higher. Biopharmaceutical company Viragen's ( VRA) shares climbed 2 cents, or 24%, to 9 cents on Monday after reporting that researchers were able to improve a process for creating a human protein used to treat hepatitis C and certain malignant diseases. Another biopharmaceutical company, MGI Pharma ( MOGN), and its Swiss partner Helsinn Healthcare announced they had submitted a supplemental new drug application for anti-post-operative nausea treatment Aloxi Injection to the Food and Drug Administration. Aloxi is already approved by the FDA for the prevention of nausea and vomiting in certain cases of emetogenic cancer chemotherapy. Shares rose 38 cents, or 1.7%, to $22.44. Additionally, BioSante Pharmaceuticals ( BPA) signed an exclusive agreement with Pantarhei Bioscience, a Netherlands-based pharmaceutical company, to develop and market a new birth control pill in the U.S. It will co-fund the early development of the oral contraceptive up to $1 million and will receive royalty payments on U.S. sales. Shares leapt 38 cents, or 5.6%, to $7.13. Ratings drove other stocks higher. Albany Molecular Research ( AMRI) climbed 2.7% after Jeffries & Co. changed their rating for the chemistry services and drug-discovery company to buy from hold. Similarly, Deutsche Bank upgraded hospice-care services company Chemed to buy from hold, sending shares up 28 cents to $11.30.
The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index, which includes Albany Molecular Research and also MGI Pharma, was down by a point, or 0.1%. Boston Scientific ( BSX) shares went up 50 cents, or 3.1%, to $16.66, after Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ) reported that a study showed its CoStar drug-coated stent was not as effective as a Boston Scientific product. Angiotech ( ANPI), which supplies a key element of the Boston Scientific stent, benefited to the tune of 42 cents, or 6.4%, to $6.98. Among other winners, Elan ( ELN), a neuroscience-based biotechnology company, was up 48 cents, or 3.2%, to $15.46, and StemCell ( STEM) increased 10 cents, or 4%, to $2.61. Omrix Biopharmaceuticals ( OMRI), which develops and markets protein-based biosurgery and passive immunotherapy products, was down 83 cents, or 2.3%, to $35.38, despite announcing that it has submitted a regulatory filing to expand in Sweden the commercialization of its hepatitis B immunoglobulin product, or HBIG. Omrix anticipates obtaining approval for HBIG in Sweden by the second quarter of 2008. Also down, CollaGenex Pharmaceuticals ( CGPI) discontinued treatment of all enrolled patients participating in a Phase II dose-finding study for an acne treatment. On May 2, CollaGenex suspended enrollment of new patients treated with incyclinide, pending an investigation of one patient's sensitivity to sunburn. The company discontinued treatment of all patients after it learned of another case. Following further investigation, CollaGenex will meet with the FDA to discuss the ongoing development program for incyclinide. Shares were negatively affected by 37 cents, or 3.3%, to $10.79.