Health indices took to a more positive track Tuesday -- with regulatory and clinical news as well as licensing agreements serving as catalysts for several stocks. Epix Pharmaceuticals ( EPIX) announced results from a midstage, two-week clinical trial of its candidate for Alzheimer's disease. The company said the drug was safe and well-tolerated and that patients who took the 150-mg dose showed statistically significant improvement in cognitive function and memory compared to placebo. Shares added 96 cents, or 32.3%, to $3.93. The stock is a component of the Nasdaq biotechnology index, which was up 7.32, or 0.9%, at 836.20. Another winner, small-cap Escalon Medical ( ESMC) said Tuesday that its Drew Scientific subsidiary received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to market the D3 Hematology System, for automatic three-part differential blood analysis. Drew Scientific plans to begin shipments of the product in the U.S. before the end of the year. Shares rose 81 cents, or 24.7%, to $4.09. Eli Lilly ( LLY) announced that CEO Sidney Taurel will retire effective March 31, to be replaced by John Lechleiter, current president and chief operating officer. The company separately announced a licensing agreement with BioMS Medical, paying the company $87 million upfront, milestone payments of up to $410 million and royalties on sales. Lilly predicts a charge of 5 cents a share to earnings for acquired, in-process research and development.
Also separately, Lilly said it would increase its dividend by 10.6% to 47 cents a share, affecting an increase in the annual dividend rate to $1.88 a share. Lilly was trading up 72 cents, or 1.3%, at $53.87. In another deal, Royal Phillips ( PHG) said it would buy health-care information company Visicu ( EICU) for $430 million, or $12 a share. The price is a 35% premium to Visicu's closing price on December 17. Visicu makes remote monitoring technology and clinical intelligence products. The company's board unanimously approved the deal, which is now subject to shareholder vote. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of next year. Visicu added $2.88, or 32.5%, to $11.74. Royal Philips was trading up 58 cents, or 1.4%, at $42.90. Also, Cyberonics ( CYBX) said that it entered into an agreement with Ethicon Endo-Surgery granting exclusive rights to the company's patents and patent applications related to vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) for the treatment of obesity, diabetes and hypertension in overweight patients. Ethicon Endo-Surgery will pay Cyberonics a signing fee of $9.5 million and royalties on commercial sales of products covered by the subject patents. Cyberonics' were up 42 cents, or 3.6%, to $12.11. Elsewhere, Vasogen ( VSGN) said the results of its late stage trial on its Celacade System in patients with chronic heart failure have been accepted for publication in The Lancet. The company previously announced that the Celacade therapy reduced the risk of death or cardiovascular hospitalizations for a large pre-specified subgroup of patients with heart failure by 39% compared to placebo. Shares were trading up 35 cents, or 19.7%, at $2.13.