Biotech stocks slightly lagged the broader market indicators at the start of the week, while pharma issues managed to keep up. The Nasdaq biotechnology index was down 0.4%. The Amex biotech index managed to edge up 0.2%, but the Amex pharmaceutical index added 1.1% for the day. Its stronger performers were Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY) and Merck ( MRK), which added more than 3% each. Bristol-Myers and partner AstraZeneca ( AZN) presented late-stage data on their type II diabetes drug Onglyza in combination with other anti-diabetic drugs at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes Annual Meeting in Rome. The companies filed for the drug's approval with the Food and Drug Administration on June 30, and with the European Medicines Agency on July 1. Also presenting data was Biodel ( BIOD), which tanked $11.51, or 68%, to $5.53 after the company reported results on two late-stage studies on diabetes drug Viaject. The trials met their primary endpoint, but results varied between study sites, and 24 patients dropped out of the Viaject arm of the studies because of pain at the injection site. Adolor ( ADLR), which develops prescription drugs for pain management, gained 31 cents, or 10%, to $3.37 after Brean Murray analyst Jonathan Aschoff upgraded the stock to buy from hold. The analyst has a sunny view of the company's Entereg, which is approved for gastrointestinal problems that could result from bowel surgery and in late stage development for chronic opioid bowel dysfunction. In other analyst actions, Canaccord Adams downgraded Genomic Health ( GDHX)to hold from buy and lowered its price target by $2 to $22. Shares of the life sciences company were up, nonetheless, by 7 cents, or 0.3%, at $21.91.
Looking ahead, the FDA is expected to issue an approval decision on Cephalon's ( CEPH) Fentora for non-cancer chronic pain on or before Friday. The stock was off by $1.01, or 1.3%, at $76.36 on Monday.