Acquisition and regulatory news held health indices just in the green on the cusp of the pre-Thanksgiving weekend. Pfizer ( PFE - Get Report) said Friday that it would buy Coley Pharmaceutical ( COLY) for $8 a share, or $164 million. (Coley shares closed at $3 on Thursday.) Shareholders holding about 27% of Coley's stock have entered into agreements to tender their shares in the offer, and the acquisition is expected to close in early 2008. Coley focuses on vaccine technology and is a pioneer in a new class of drug candidates called TLR Therapeutics which work by stimulating or blocking important immune system receptors, called Toll-like receptors (TLRs) that direct the immune system to fight disease Pfizer held up 10 ents, or 0.4%, at $23.39. Coley surged $4.81, or 160%, to $7.81. The stock is a component of the Nasdaq biotechnology index, which was up 0.1% at 848.21. Also on the uptick, deCODE Genetics ( DCGN) added 57 cents, or 18.8%, to $3.60, after announcing that it was launching deCODEme, a pioneering service that lets individuals get a detailed look at their own genome. The company said that through a subscription a person will send in a cheek swab and create an account that will allow them to see whether they have genetic variants associated with higher- or lower-than-average risk of a range of common diseases. The company will also provide expert analysis of the variants across their genome. The company said it will charge an introductory promotional price of $985 for a subscription.
On the regulatory side, Discovery Laboratories ( DSCO) said Friday that the Food and Drug Administration will review its response to an agency request for additional information on Surfaxin, its candidate drug for treatment of respiratory distress syndrome in premature infants. The FDA issued an approvable letter asking for more information on Surfaxin in April 2006. Discovery Laboratories now expects a decision from the agency by May 1. Shares rose 26 cents, or 11.5%, to $2.53. Gilead Sciences ( GILD) said it submitted a new-drug application (NDA) to the FDA seeking approval for its investigational three-times daily aztreonam lysine inhaled therapy for cystic fibrosis. The NDA is supported by data from two phase III clinical studies and interim data from an ongoing open-label extension study of patients who participated in those studies. Gilead said the drug has not yet been determined safe or efficacious in humans. Gilead rose 99 cents, or 2.7%, to $44.64. Meanwhile, Biogen Idec ( BIIB - Get Report) and Elan ( ELN) said the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP), which advises the European Medicines Agency (EMEA), recommended against approving natalizumab, or Tysabri, for Crohn's disease. The companies said they expect a decision from the European Commission in the first quarter of 2008. Biogen shares nudged up 12 cents, or 0.2%, to $70.04 , and Elan fell 36 cents, or 1.5%, to $23.24. Also on Friday Abbott Labs ( ABT - Get Report) said the CHMP gave the EMEA a positive opinion on Humira for the treatment of moderate to severe plaque psoriasis, potentially the fifth disease indication for the drug. The company expects a decision from the European Committee in the next 60 days for Humira, which is also being considered for FDA approval as a treatment of psoriasis. Abbott climbed 73 cents, or 1.3%, to $55.21.