Legal and regulatory news kept biotech and pharma stocks somewhat in the green on Thursday.Affymetrix ( AFFX) and Illumina ( ILMN) were both on the move after settling a lawsuit on Thursday. Affymetrix was suing on the premise of patent violation for multiple products after winning $16.7 million on five previous counts of patent infringement in October. The company agreed to drop all claims for a one-time payment of $90 million. Investors indicated Illumina got the better end of the deal, taking Affymetrix shares down $1.26, or 5.3%, to $22.50, and pushing Illumina up $11.67, or 19.3%, to 72.13. Both stocks are components of the Nasdaq biotechnology index, which was up 8.72, or 1%, to 857.71. Various regulatory updates nudged other stocks around. Progenics ( PGNX) shares fell back in morning trading on an FDA delay, but seemingly recovered with investor optimism. The company and its partner Wyeth ( WYE) said Thursday morning that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration pushed back the action date for a review of a new drug application for subcutaneous methylnaltrexone, which is being reviewed for opioid-induced constipation. According to the companies, the agency needs time to review a recent study on QT prolongation and plans to have a review complete by April 30. Lazard analyst Joel Sendek noted in a report on the stock that an FDA panel could follow the extended review. But Sendek, unshaken, also noted, "We continue to believe that sc-MNTX will receive approval for AMI-OIC."
Wyeth was trading down 40 cents, or 0.84%, to $46.94. Meanwhile, the FDA warned Noven Pharmaceuticals ( NOVN) about the company's Daytrana transdermal system. In July the FDA wrapped up an inspection of the company's Miami facility regarding problems patients had peeling off the backing material from the company's patch for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The letter asks for additional information and analysis regarding product deficiencies, but doesn't affect production or shipment of the product. Noven said the agency did state in the letter that failure to promptly address the concerns could result in further regulatory action. Shares were down 54 cents, or 3.7%, at $13.28. And, elsewhere, Omrix Biopharmaceuticals ( OMRI) said Thursday that the FDA approved the expanded use of its Evicel for general hemostasis. The liquid fibrin sealant was already approved for patients undergoing surgery when other methods of controlling bleeding were impractical or ineffective. After passing $35, shares were trading up just 48 cents, or 1.4%, to $34.07, mid-afternoon. Away from regulatory action, Teva Pharmaceuticals ( TEVA) was slipping after the company announced its chief executive for North America, George S. Barrett, is leaving to become vice chairman and CEO of health care supply chain service company Cardinal Health ( CAH). Teva's USA President and CEO William S. Marth will take Barrett's position. Teva, which is also weathering the pending retirement of its CFO, gave up $2.16, or 4.3%, to 47.50 on Thursday, while Cardinal added 1.79, or 3%, to $60.35. Life science technology company Invitrogen ( IVGN) said on Thursday that it will purchase privately held company CellzDirect for $57 million. CellzDirect provides cell products and services used to test new drugs, primarily for effects on liver enzymes. Shares edged up $1.32, or 1.38%, to $96.87.