Health Care Market Movers: SMMX, INSM, ADLS, HEB, ACUR and HALO

by: M. E. Garza

Rumors, takeovers and accusations moved stocks in the market's healthcare sector as foreign investors continue to show a healthy appetite for U.S. debt. The day's flat performance followed the worst single-day decline for stocks in two months.

Laboratory Corporation of America (NYSE: LH) said on Tuesday that it has agreed to buy Monogram Biosciences Inc (Nasdaq: MGRM) a maker of diagnostic products for HIV and cancer, for about $106.7 million. That news sent MGRM shares up +2.84 (169.05%) to $4.52. Monogram said its board unanimously determined the offer to be in the best interest of the company and recommended that its stockholders tender their shares in the offer when it is made.

LabCorp Chief Executive David King said the acquisition would add to the company's position in personalized medicine. Monogram has advanced diagnostic products that help doctors determine which HIV or cancer medicines are best suited for particular patients.

Symyx Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq:SMMX) announced it has been named one of the Top 10 Life Science Software Vendors in a May 2009 report published by Health Industry Insights, an IDC company. Symyx electronic laboratory notebook, data acquisition, decision-support software and scientific databases give scientists collaborative access to personal, corporate and public sources of data to support information-driven R&D. That sent shares up to $5.82 +0.56 (10.65%)

Alan S. Louie, Ph.D., research director of Health Industry Insights, said:

The inclusion of specialty vendors in the enterprise life science software top 10 list reflects significant growth trends impacting the industry. The conversion from paper-based efforts to electronic systems to improve collection, analysis and accessibility is driving vendor growth across the pharmaceutical value chain, including rapid growth in electronic notebooks.

Insmed Incorporated (NASDAQ:INSM) traded up to $2.30 +0.21 (10.05%). Investors are awaiting results of the MMD Phase II Clinical Trial are due by the end of June. The purpose of the Phase II study is to confirm the positive results obtained in the open-label dose escalation trial - in a multi-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled setting. The study will include 60 patients and will be powered to detect a 75 meter difference between IPLEX(TM) and placebo for the change in distance walked during the six minute walk test.

From our FDA and Clinical Trials Calendar, look for Advanced Life Sciences Holdings, Inc. (OTC: ADLS) shares to continue to rise after the company today announced that a second non-human primate study involving its novel, once-a-day, oral antibiotic Restanza(TM) (cethromycin), showed that a 14-day course of Restanza achieved a 100% survival rate against an inhaled lethal dose of anthrax. All of the animals in the study that received 16 mg/kg once-a-day (the human equivalent dose of 300 mg) of Restanza within 24 hours after exposure to anthrax survived while none of the animals that received placebo survived. The study was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), an institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is a component of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), an agency of the U.S. Government. The company is waiting for approval of their Cethromycin NDA with an expected PDUFA decision date of 7/31/09. Shares climbed to $0.60 today, up +0.04 (7.14%).

Dr. Michael Flavin, Chairman and CEO of Advanced Life Sciences, said:

The successful outcome of the study provides strong evidence of Restanza's life saving potential and underscores its value as a potent new biodefense countermeasure. When coupled with the positive outcome of the pivotal primate study that we announced in May 2007, we believe that these significant findings complete the regulatory package for Restanza in the post-exposure prophylactic treatment of inhalation anthrax indication. We are looking forward to working with NIAID on the final study report and submitting our data package for regulatory review based on our NDA for Restanza, which is currently under review by the FDA for the treatment of mild-to-moderate community acquired pneumonia (CAP).

Also, some shareholders of Hemispherx BioPharma, Inc (AMEX:HEB) are still hoping to hear positive news in regards to their own FDA decision on Ampligen for the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Yesterday, company shares were hit with what longs have begun to describe as "Chronic (Adam) Feuerstein Syndrome" after TheStreet.Com writer took yet another in a series of jabs at Hemispherx. This time Feuerstein predicted that the company would pull its Ampligen NDA and develop the drug instead as an N1H1 flu vaccine booster. Shares tumbled as he made the completely baseless claim (confirmed by insiders familiar with the situation) that by pulling the application from the FDA, Hemispherx CEO William A. Carter would avoid the embarrassment of an FDA rejection.

The upbeat company CEO told BioMedReports recently that his firm has spent well over $500 million to get to this point in the decision process with the FDA- including the costs of various clinical trials, applications and scientific work. Thomson Financial reported on Tuesday that Gradient upgraded HEB from HOLD to BUY. Before Feuerstein's article, the stock was trading at $2.54 but then tumbled to a two day low of $1.50 before rallying to a $1.94 close on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, as of the time of this article, HEB investors were still on hold about Wednesday's previously scheduled shareholder's meeting in Philadelphia. According to our sources, if there are not enough votes to achieve quorum, the meeting will simply be postponed. There were no major announcements expected at the "housekeeping" meeting and the company re-affirmed to BioMedReports that they have not yet heard from the FDA- despite rampant rumors to the contrary.

Acura Pharmaceuticals, Inc.(NASDAQ:ACUR) dropped to $5.89 -1.68 (-22.19%) after the company said on 06/23/09 that its new drug application for Acurox immediate-release pain tablets is unlikely to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's June 30 deadline, raising the possibility Acurox could ultimately be rejected.

Halozyme Therapeutics (NASDAQ:HALO) shares dropped to $6.48 -1.05 (-13.94%)after the company announced on 06/23/09 that it has raised gross proceeds of $40 million through the public offering of 6,150,000 million newly issued shares of its common stock. The public offering price of $6.50 per share represents a discount of 11.6% relative to the average closing share price during the five trading days preceding the public offering. The biopharmaceutical company raised a total of about $40 million after selling one million more shares than anticipated. Halozyme had about 83 million shares outstanding prior to the offering.

Here are the healthcare sector's movers for Tuesday, June 23, 2009:

Gainers (% price change) Last Trade Change Mkt Cap
Monogram Biosciences, Inc MGRM 4.52 +2.84 (169.05%) 104.15M
Symyx Technologies, Inc. SMMX 5.82 +0.56 (10.65%) 198.33M
Insmed Incorporated INSM 2.30 +0.21 (10.05%) 287.44M
Capital Senior Living CSU 4.09 +0.37 (9.95%) 109.82M
Orexigen Therapeutics OREX 4.39 +0.38 (9.48%) 152.16M

Losers (% price change)
ChemGenex Pharmaceuticals CXSP 20.44 -3.56 (-14.83%) 326.65M
Halozyme Therapeutics HALO 6.48 -1.05 (-13.94%) 537.57M
Tiens Biotech Group (USA TBV 2.09 -0.26 (-11.06%) 149.09M
Spectrum Pharmaceuticals SPPI 5.24 -0.64 (-10.88%) 172.90M
K-V Pharmaceutical Co. KV.A 2.63 -0.27 (-9.31%) 131.36M

Most Actives (dollar volume)
Pfizer Inc. PFE 14.73 -0.06 (-0.41%) 99.40B
Johnson & Johnson JNJ 55.01 -0.48 (-0.87%) 151.58B
Amgen, Inc. AMGN 51.14 +0.15 (0.29%) 51.77B
Boston Scientific Corp. BSX 9.51 +0.27 (2.92%) 14.33B
Merck & Co., Inc. MRK 25.11 -0.07 (-0.28%) 52.95B