Investors seemed pleased Tuesday with health stocks like Corcept Pharmaceuticals ( CORT), which leapt 36%, on an overall flat-to-positive day for biotechs and pharmaceutical companies. Corcept climbed $1.18 to $4.58 after saying that the Food and Drug Administration indicated it had opened the investigational new-drug (IND) application for Corlux, as a treatment for Cushing's syndrome. Corcept said the FDA indicated in the IND that a single study may provide a reasonable basis for the submission of a new-drug application (NDA) for Corlux to treat Cushing's syndrome; this allows the company to initiate the 50-patient open-label study defined by the protocol it submitted. The company said it expects to open the trial for enrollment late in the fourth quarter. Also winning, ImClone ( IMCL) gained Tuesday after the German drugmaker Merck KGaA, which sells the cancer drug Erbitux in Europe, said that
results from a phase III study indicate that the drug prolonged the survival of lung-cancer patients. ImClone developed Erbitux and markets the drug in the U.S. with partner Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY). ImClone added $6.78, or 17.7%, to $44.63. Bristol-Myers edged up 12 cents, or 0.4%, to $28.12. Elsewhere, Sepracor ( SEPR) and GlaxoSmithKline ( GSK) announced an agreement for insomnia drug Lunesta. Glaxo obtained rights to market the drug, which is currently being reviewed for approval in the European Union, in all markets worldwide excluding the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Japan under the name Lunivia.
Sepracor was trading up 75 cents, or 2.8%, to $28.16, while GSK was up 93 cents, or 1.8%, at $53.98. Moving the other direction was Trubion Pharmaceuticals ( TRBN), which said after the market close on Monday that midstage trial results indicated a single, intravenous dose of rheumatoid arthritis drug TRU-015 was more effective than a placebo in treating arthritis symptoms. But Trubion also said its development strategy for TRU-015 will probably include another study before it moves to late-stage testing. Shares gave up $5.46, or 28.6%, to $13.61. And shares of King Pharmaceuticals ( KG) fell $1.03, or 7.2%, to $13.23, Tuesday after a court found patent claims behind its top-selling drug, the blood pressure medication Altace, were invalid. A lower court had ruled in favor of King and Sanofi-Aventis ( SNY), which co-market the drug, holding that Indian drugmaker Lupin's application for a generic version of Altace infringed on the drug's patent. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in favor of Lupin. The Amex pharmaceutical index, which includes King, was up nonetheless by 2.28, or 0.68, to 338.01.