Wednesday's Health Winners & Losers

A new CEO and mention of a stock offering lifted two health companies Wednesday while others were scathed by negative news.

Medical device company DexCom ( DXCM) climbed 45 cents, or 6.5%, to $7.30 Wednesday after it announced that Terrance Gregg, chief executive at the Canadian biotechnology company Vasogen ( VSGN) and former vice president of Medtronic, will take over as president and chief executive in place of Andy Rasdal, who's stepping down. Gregg will remain chairman of Vasogen's board, and CEO Rasdal who will remain a board member and advisor during the transitio

Vasogen, which was down 17 cents, or 6.3%, to $2.53, named former COO and CFO Chris Waddick president and chief executive.

On the other end of the spectrum from Vasogen, Protalix BioTherapeutics ( PLX) rocketed 31% after announcing that its board of directors authorized it to prepare a registration statement for the Securities and Exchange Commission for a common stock offering during the second half of 2007. The company gave no hints to the offering's size or price, but its stock price leapt $6.54 to $27.13 regardless.

Also up was Inspire Pharmaceuticals ( ISPH), which amended a licensing agreement from October 2006 with Spain's FAES Farma for oral allergy drug bilastine based on feedback from the Food and Drug Administration. According to the amended agreement, FAES will conduct additional clinical work for at least five more months. Then, in December, FAES has the option to discontinue the additional clinical work and Inspire can terminate the entire or part of the agreement without further expense.

While Durham, N.C.-based Inspire will continue to fund the preclinical development of the ophthalmic formulation for allergic conjunctivitis, it won't have any financial obligations for the oral program while FAES is conducting the additional trials. Thus, it expects to decrease its spending by about $14 million in 2007. This takes into account an $8 million previously planned milestone payment that it will no longer make in 2007.

Inspire, which rose 21 cents, or 3.7%, to $5.96, is part of the Nasdaq biotechnology index, which was down 8.03, or 1%, to 817.38.

Two companies pained Wednesday were Zila Pharmaceuticals ( ZILA) and Coley Pharmaceutical ( COLY).

Cancer diagnostic company Zila sank 17 cents, or 12%, to $1.26 Wednesday. The company held a conference call Tuesday afternoon to discuss its third-quarter earnings, which included a dim assessment of funds. Zila said based on its availability of funds it will have to delay, scale back or eliminate some or all of its research and product development programs, limit its product marketing, license commercial rights to third parties or raise additional funds.

"If we are unable to execute these strategies, we may breach the financial covenants of our senior secured debt and be unable to repay the outstanding balance," Zila said in its 10Q.

Worse off was Coley, which said Wednesday that Pfizer ( PFE) discontinued the developmental program for an investigational lung cancer treatment after an interim analysis by an independent Data Safety Monitoring Committee found no evidence that the treatment was more effective than the standard, and that the risk/benefit profile didn't justify the continuation of the trials. Coley fell $5.07, or 60%, to $3.44, and Pfizer was down 43 cents, or 1.6%, to $25.77.

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