A few health stocks, including Biogen Idec ( BIIB), gained ground Thursday on business and clinical updates on a flat-to-positive day for the sector. Biogen climbed after it reaffirmed 2007 guidance and said it expects to grow revenue by 15% a year and earnings per share (before charges and expenses) by 20% a year from 2007 to 2010. The company said it expects the growth to be driven by continued performance of multiple sclerosis treatment Avonex, expansion of cancer treatment rituxan into autoimmune diseases, achieving a milestone of 100,000 patients on Tysabri by the end of 2010, and geographic diversification of its revenue base -- aiming for 40% of revenue to be from international business by 2010. Shares gained $3.66, or 5.83%, to $66.53. Cell Therapeutics ( CTIC) said following a meeting with the Food and Drug Administration it will conduct a full analysis of a late-stage study for its non-Hodgkin's lymphoma candidate pixantrone instead of an interim analysis. The company expects the study to be completed by the end of the year and said a full analysis should be available during the first half of 2008. Cell Therapeutics said that since pixantrone has fast-track status for this indication, it could receive marketing approval in 2009. Shares rose 19 cents or 5.1%, to $3.90. Others rose on mid-to-late stage trial initiation updates. Introgen Therapeutics ( INGN) and Moffitt Cancer Center announced plans to begin a phase II randomized, controlled study of INGN 225, Introgen's investigational immunotherapy product in patients with metastatic small-cell lung cancer.
The National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute awarded a grant of around $1.3 million to fund the trial, which is expected to enroll as many as 80 patients starting early next year upon completion of the protocol with the NCI and FDA. The stock increased 49 cents, or 11.8%, to $4.65. In addition, Pfizer ( PFE) said it initiated a phase III trial evaluating the efficacy and safety of sunitinib malate, in combination with targeted therapy erlotinib, in previously treated patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, shares were trading down 9 cents, or 0.4%, at $24.62. Elsewhere, biopharmaceutical company Cubist ( CBST) said its IV antibiotic Cubicin, which was originally approved by the European Commission in January to treat cSSTI infections caused by certain Gram-positive bacteria, has now been approved for two new indications in Europe. Shares nudged up 13 cents, or 0.6%, to $23. On the falling side, Encysive Pharmaceuticals ( ENCY) said after close on Wednesday that the FDA responded to its request for formal dispute resolution pulmonary arterial hypertension treatment Thelin. The agency agreed with the original decision of the division of cardiovascular and renal products that the data provided in Encysive's NDA for Thelin didn't provide enough evidence of effectiveness for approval -- and suggested Encysive conduct an additional study to demonstrate the drug's effectiveness in exercise capacity as measured by change in six-minute walk distance. Shares responded Thursday by giving up 10 cents, or 5.6%, to $1.69. Encysive didn't hurt the Nasdaq biotechnology index, of which it's a component. The index was up 7.81, or 0.94%, to 836.80.