Updated from 2:44 p.m. EDTInvestors reacted to PDL BioPharma's ( PDLI - Get Report) refocused business plan, while other health stocks gained on varied news Wednesday. PDL BioPharma
On the earnings side, medical-device maker Synovis Life Technologies gained $2.66, or 18%, to close at $17.46, after the company reported it earned $1.2 million, or 10 cents a share, in the third quarter, compared with a loss of $526,000, or 4 cents a share, during the year-ago period. Revenue rose 39% to $18.2 million from $13.1 million. Elsewhere, Merck ( MRK - Get Report) and Pharmion gave updates on their respective interactions with the FDA. Merck said Wednesday that its new-drug application (NDA) for Cordaptive, a therapy for conditions associated with increased risk of heart disease, was accepted for standard review by the FDA. The company anticipates action from the agency in the second quarter of next year. The investigational compound contains Merck's extended-release niacin and laropiprant, which is designed to reduce flushing often associated with niacin treatment. Merck closed up 71 cents, or 1.4%, at $49.92. The FDA granted Pharmion fast-track designation for oral Azacitidine to treat myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), a group of diseases in which the production of blood cells by the bone marrow is disrupted (formerly known as preleukemia). The fast-track designation expedites the review of drugs that are intended to treat serious or life-threatening conditions and that could potentially address unmet medical needs. As part of the designation, the company can submit the NDA in sections rather than as a whole.
Azacitidine (by injection) is already approved to treat all subtypes of MDS, and in January the FDA approved an NDA supplement to add intravenous use to instructions in the drug's prescribing information. Shares nudged up 54 cents, or 1.4%, to close at $38.44. Last, an update on Tenet HealthCare ( THC - Get Report): The hospital operator issued a response to a Credit Suisse analyst report that expressed concern with the company's funding for the next few years. The report noted, "Without an industry recovery in volume or patient insurance, a Chapter 11 filing may be necessary in three years, in our opinion." Tenet responded by saying it was well-capitalized and capable of funding the next few years. Specifically, it said it had $675 million in cash at June 30 and no outstanding borrowings on its line of credit which, under its terms, had $500 million in availability as of June 30. Also, Tenet said it has no long-term debt maturing until December 2011. Shares closed up 6 cents, or 1.8%, to $3.40.