Healthcare Review: CombiMatrix, Oncolytics Biotech, Array BioPharma, Hologic, Biogen Print E-mail
By Staff and Wire Reports   
Thursday, 21 November 2013 15:02
U.S. stocks rose on Thursday after data pointed to a slowly improving labor market and subdued inflation, keeping intact most investors' expectations that the Federal Reserve is unlikely to scale back stimulus until early next year. The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week while producer prices fell for a second straight month in October, indicating inflation pressures remain muted. Separate data showed U.S. manufacturing rebounded after hitting a one-year low in October and output grew at its fastest pace in nine months.

CombiMatrix ($CBMX) builds on gains posted in the premarket and is now trading dramatically higher. More than 6M shares have traded hands versus a 10-day average of just 137K. The company announces a deal with America's Choice Provider Network for coverage of CBMX's diagnostic laboratory services. The agreement secures access to the services for some 14M members.

After trading up in the premarket, shares of Oncolytics Biotech ($ONCY) have now made a rather decisive turn lower as investors and analysts digest and evaluate this morning's top-line data from a study of a Reolysin/carboplatin/paclitaxel combo in second-line platinum-refractory, taxane-naïve head and neck cancers. Some seem to be concerned about the absence of comprehensive OS data — the company provides OS data for 88 patients but not for the entire group (118) due to the "confounding" effect of "post-discontinuation therapy" that some patients received at certain enrolling centers.

Array BioPharma ($ARRY -3%) announces the resignation of President and Chief Scientific Officer Kevin Koch.  Koch is leaving "to pursue other professional opportunities" — there were no disagreements with the company.

Hologic ($HOLX) jumps 7% as investors react to a filing which shows Carl Icahn has taken a 12.6% active stake. The purchases were made "on the belief that [the shares] are undervalued." Meanwhile, the company has promptly adopted a rights plan.  According the RBC, Icahn's breakeven price for the shares is ~$21.50-22.50.

With a CHMP decision expected Friday, Wells Fargo is out with some interesting commentary on regulatory data protection for Biogen's ($BIIB) Tecfidera in Europe. "Given the possibility that BIIB might not launch in EU without data protection, the threat of withholding an important treatment option for MS in Europe could raise political pressure on regulators from the patient and physician communities to assign the drug NAS status," analyst Brian Abrahams says, suggesting the company has quite a bit of leverage in the process.

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