Health stocks were propped up on Wednesday by earnings and revenue guidance, regulatory actions and general plans for 2008.Barr Pharmaceuticals ( BRL) said on Wednesday that it's asking the FDA to approve the generic version of Eloxatin, an injectible colon cancer treatment. In doing so, the company is challenging Sanofi-Aventis' ( SNY) patent. Sanofi and partner Debiopharm filed a lawsuit on Friday to prevent Barr from moving the generic drug forward. The product had sales of approximately $1.1 billion in the U.S., based on IMS sales data for the 12 months ended October 2007. Barr was trading up $1.85, or 3.6%, at $53.68. Other stocks rose on bullish outlooks. Contract research organization Pharmaceutical Product Development ( PPDI) rose $4.15, or 9.8%, to $46.65 after the company predicted Tuesday post-close that its 2008 profit will beat Wall Street expectations. The company said it expects 2008 profits to be between $1.82 and $1.92 a share, and anticipates revenue between $1.54 billion and $1.59 billion vs. prior guidance of $1.29 billion to $1.34 billion. The Thomson Financial consensus target was $1.71 a share on revenue of $1.51 billion. Similarly, ViroPharma ( VPHM) said Wednesday that it expected sales for its lead product Vanconcin, a treatment for gastrointestinal tract infections, to reach $210 million to $235 million in 2008, vs. prior-year sales of $200 million to $208 million in 2007. Analysts are looking for sales of $205.3 million in 2007 and $180.3 million in 2008.
The company also said it will seek FDA approval for its Camvia, a treatment in late-stage development for a type of herpes, in 2009. Shares were up 65 cents, or 7.4%, at $9.24. Meanwhile, Sciele Pharma ( SCRX) said it plans to launch six products next year. The company also reaffirmed its guidance, looking for earnings of $1.53 to $1.58 a share, after items, on revenue of $375 million to $385 million. The company guided to between $1.97 and $2.07 a share on revenue of $440 million to $455 million for 2008. Shares were up 77 cents, or 3.5%, to $22.85. Both ViroPharma and Sciele are components of the nasdaq biotechnology index, which was up 12.30, or 1.5%, at 848.99. On the losing side, biotechnology company ArQule ( ARQL) gave up 71 cents, or 14.2%, to $4.31, after Banc of America analyst Katherine Kim downgraded the stock to neutral from buy, lowering her price target to $6 from $9. Kim noted concern over the departure of the company's CEO, Stephen A. Hill, which was announced on Monday. Elsewhere, Antigenics ( AGEN) said that it will privately place 8.7 million shares and 10-year warrants to purchase the same number at $3 a share, a 40% premium to its closing price on Tuesday, for a total of about $26.1 million. The warrants can be exercised for $3 a share. Shares edged up 18 cents, or 8.4%, on nearly double average volume, to $2.33.