Health stocks reflected varied news on the Monday after the July Fourth holiday, from unfavorable trial results, side effects and cost-effectiveness assessments as well analyst notes. Teva ( TEVA) skidded after the company said that according to top-line results of a trial dubbed "FORTE" the higher, 40mg dose of Copaxone was no more effective than the already FDA-approved 20mg dose in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). Teva shares fell $4.54, or 9.6%, to $42.66. The stock is a component of the Amex pharmaceutical index, which was down 5.74, or 1.9%, at 293.79. Incidentally, the only stock component of the pharmaceutical index that wasn't in the red Monday afternoon was pharma player Wyeth ( WYE). Its shares were up 52 cents, or 1.1%, at $47.51. The company said in a release on July 3 (the last regular trading day prior to Monday) that it received European approval to market Relistor subcutaneous injection for pain-killer-induced constipation in patients with advanced illness who are receiving palliative care when typical laxative therapy is insufficient. One stock bucking downward trends, APP Pharmaceuticals ( APPX) rocketed $5.27, or 30%, to $23.09 after German health care company Frenenius said it will buy the Schaumburg, Ill., drugmaker for $3.7 billion, or roughly $23 a share, a 29% premium to APP's closing price on Thursday. Meanwhile, a medical expert panel that advises European regulators preliminarily concluded that GlaxoSmithKline's ( GSK) Tyverb is not a cost-effective treatment for breast cancer. The drug, which has received conditional approval in Europe, has to receive full government approval in order to be available to all patients at subsidized rates. Glaxo shares were down $1.01, or 2.2%, at $45.76. Also on the decline, Genentech ( DNA) gave up $2.43, or 3.1%, to $75.51 on unconfirmed cases of PML, a deadly brain infection, in rheumatoid arthritis patients treated with Rituxan, as mentioned in a Leerink Swann report. PML is listed on the drug's label as a possible side effect.
TheStreet.com's Adam Feuerstein reported Monday that a Genentech spokesperson confirmed the report of a single, fatal case of PML in a rheumatoid arthritis patient enrolled in the study dubbed REFLEX. However, a direct link between PML and the drug has been neither established nor ruled out as more investigation underway. Elsewhere, analysts continue to be positive on Celgene ( CELG) -- Jeffries and Co, upped its price target to $81 from $77, while Lehman Brothers raised its target to $75 from $71. Shares were up $1.17, or 1.8%, to $68.54. Friedman Billings Ramsey analyst James Kumpel upgraded health-care services company Kindred Healthcare ( KND) to outperform from market perform and raised his price target to $36 from $29 on Monday, expecting a strong second half and full year despite Wall Street's prior dreary view. The analyst said Medicare reimbursement rates may even grow in 2009. Kindred shares were up $2.48, or 9%, to $29.59 Monday. Less fortunate, Big Pharma company Merck ( MRK) traded down $2.11, or 5.5%, to $36.34. UBS analyst Rupesh Patel downgraded the stock to neutral from buy and scaled back his price target to $40 from $43 airing skepticism about second-quarter sales of Merck's cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil and long-term revenue growth prospects overall. Also falling was medical-equipment maker Orthofix ( OFIX), which gave up $3.30, or 12%, to $24.74. A Wachovia downgraded the stock to market perform from outperform.