Health stocks took another beating Wednesday, although the damage wasn't quite as severe as it was in the broader market, as the Nasdaq and Amex biotechnology indices lost roughly 4%. Among the stocks in the news, drugmaker Wyeth ( WYE) said European regulators requested that trials of its experimental Alzheimer's drug bapineuzumab be delayed while they review mid-stage data presented earlier this year. In July, data from a phase II study showed that patients didn't have a statistically significant benefit from treatment with the drug. Wyeth and its partner Elan ( ELN) called the results "encouraging," however, and said the data support the decision to conduct ongoing phase III studies. Shares of Wyeth, which also reported third-quarter earnings that declined slightly year over year, fell 11%. Elan gave up nearly 14%. Elsewhere, Merck ( MRK) met third-quarter expectations on Wednesday, factoring out a restructuring charge, but said it will cut another 12% of its workforce to save up to $4.2 billion by 2013. Shares were down 6.5%. GlaxoSmithKline's ( GSK) third-quarter net income fell 1.8%, but still surpassed expectations with help from exchange rates. The company maintained its full-year forecast of a mid-single digit decline in earnings per share in local currencies. Shares were off 3%. Also, Genzyme ( GENZ) beat profit estimates for the latest quarter, but it missed analysts' sales targets for its key products. Shares were down 3.2%. Amylin ( AMLN) reported a widened quarterly loss late Tuesday, falling short of analyst expectations. The company said it entered into a product-supply agreement for a once-weekly version of the diabetes drug Byetta, for which it now plans to file for approval by the end of the first half of 2009.
Looking ahead, Amylin said selling, general and administrative expenses, and research and development costs would be lower than expected for 2008, but it also cut its full-year revenue guidance. Shares were down 6%. On Thursday, look for earnings from Celgene ( CELG) and Eli Lilly.