Buybacks, bids, downgrades and drama peppered the news, prompting a few spikes in a generally flat health sector Wednesday. Biogen Idec ( BIIB) pledged a $3 billion buyback of up to 57 million shares of its own stock, reducing the share count by 16%. It will buy them for between $47 and $53 a share, depending on how many shares are tendered by shareholders. The Cambridge, Mass., biotech company said the buyback, which started today, will run through June 26. The stock climbed $2.75, or 5.6%, to $51.95. The Amex Biotechnology Index, which includes Biogen, was up 1.39, or 0.2%, to 820.01. Shares of Novacea ( NOVC) were up $5.90, or 73%, by Wednesday afternoon, after having risen more than 100% earlier in the day. The stock soared on the news that the California-based biotech company struck an agreement with Schering-Plough ( SGP) regarding prostate cancer treatment candidate Asentar. Schering-Plough was down 38 cents, or $1.10, to $32.37. Also up was CytRx Corp ( CYTR), which said that after favorable preclinical results and earlier clinical data, it plans to move into a phase II clinical trial for iroxanadine for diabetic foot ulcers. The Los Angeles-based biopharmaceutical company said subject to clearance from the Food and Drug Administration, the study will commence in the first half of 2008. The stock climbed 22 cents, or 6.3%, to $3.73. Bioenvision ( BIVN) was the center of drama Wednesday after three downgrades and a letter from a key shareholder, SCO Capital, proclaiming Genzyme's ( GENZ) $345 million bid inadequate. Bioenvision shares were up 21 cents, or 3.8%, to $5.80. Genzyme was down 60 cents, or 0.9%, to $61.98.
Stocks soar as the gross domestic product rises at an annualized rate of 3.5% in the third quarter and continuing jobless claims fall. Gregg Greenberg recaps the action in The Real Story video (above).