Health stocks traded heavily into negative territory along with the broader markets on a relatively quiet Friday for the sector. The Nasdaq and Amex biotechnology indices took gave up 1.8% and 1.8%, respectively, after registering gains a day earlier. One component of the Nasdaq index that bucked the trend, Inspire Pharmaceuticals ( ISPH) surged $1.39, or 36%, to $5.24 after the company said a late-stage trial of inhalation solution Denufosol, its prospective cystic fibrosis drug, met its primary goal. In business news, GlaxoSmithKline ( GSK) said Friday that it completed its previously announced purchase of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals through a cash and tender offer of roughly $720 million, or $22.50 a share. Glaxo's shares were off by 75 cents, or 1.7%, at $42.50. Also GenVec ( GNVC) said it will sell some 11.25 million shares of common stock and warrants to purchase about 2.25 million more to institutional and accredited investors for proceeds of roughly $17 million. Shares were down 19 cents, or 11%, at $1.49 on higher-than-average volume. Meanwhile, Natus Medical ( BABY) shares turned down a day after the company raised revenue guidance but reined in its full-year profit expectations in light of its acquisition of privately held Sonamed Corp. and two stock offerings earlier this year. Shares, which rose 33 cents Thursday, gave up 77 cents, or 3.6%, to $20.35 Friday. Elsewhere, the Food and Drug Administration outlined proposals regarding the safety of contact lens solutions ahead of an advisory panel scheduled for next Tuesday, according to an Associated Press report.
Eye-care makers Bausch & Lomb and Advanced Medical Optics ( EYE) withdrew products from the market in recent years after instances of rare but serious eye infections, prompting concern about lens solutions. Advanced Medical Optics shares declined 54 cents, or 2.3%, to $23.25. Separately, shares of Cooper Cos. ( COO) gave up $2.88, or 7%, to $38.46 a day after the specialty contact lens maker reported quarterly profit that met Wall Street expectations and reaffirmed its expectations for 2008. Goldman Sachs analyst Lawrence Keusch raised his price target to $39 from $35, but noted that the company's free cash flow will remain under pressure for the next few quarters, keeping it from significantly reducing long-term debt. Meanwhile, Jeffries & Co. analyst Peter Bye reaffirmed a hold rating and a $38 price target, but noted the competitive threat of lenses launched by Ciba Vision and Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ), among other things.