Health stocks were mixed on light news at the end of the holiday-shortened week Friday. The Nasdaq and Amex biotechnology indices were down 0.1% and 0.6%, respectively. The Amex Pharmaceutical index, however, added 0.8%, with components Schering-Plough and Sanofi-Aventis ( SNY) recording 3% and 1.5% gains. On the biotech side, Biogen Idec ( BIIB) fell 1.5%, while Amgen ( AMGN) added 1.5%. Meanwhile, a Food and Drug Administration panel unanimously voted to recommend the agency approve GlaxoSmithKline ( GSK - Get Report) and Ligand's ( LGND - Get Report) blood-disorder drug Promacta for short-term use, after documents posted to the FDA Web site ahead of the meeting suggested the vote would be otherwise. The FDA isn't required to follow the advice of advisory panels but usually does. Ligand shares soared more than 50%, to about $3.60, after having taken a hit earlier in the week on the negative panel pre-briefing. Glaxo shares added 60 cents, or 1.4%, to $44.58. Germany's Merck KGaA said an advisory committee recommended European regulators approve Erbitux for first-line treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer in patients with KRAS wild-type tumors. Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY - Get Report) and ImClone ( IMCL), which market the drug in the U.S., saw shares rise 1.4% and 0.8%, respectively. Genentech -- which markets a competing cancer drug, Avastin -- saw shares edge down 0.3% to $70.77. In earnings, Medical Action Industries ( MDCI) dove some 20%, to $13.26 after the disposable-medical-product company missed quarterly earnings expectations. The company reported profit of $2.8 million, or 17 cents a share, down from $3.2 million, or 19 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue rose 4% to $72.1 million, but also fell short of Wall Street's view.
The Thomson Reuters consensus target was for a profit of 21 cents a share, on $76.6 million in revenue. Implementing cost-cutting initiatives, biopharmaceutical company Pharmacopeia said it will eliminate 15% of its workforce. The company said it will focus on its later-stage discovery programs, including its lead midstage candidate, PS433540, a potential treatment for high blood pressure and diabetic kidney disease. The cutbacks are expected to generate at least $10 million in savings in 2009. Pharmacopeia shares edged down 2 cents, or 0.5%, to $4.22.