Healthcare Stocks Inching Lower; Weight Loss Drug-Makers Climbing After AMA Labels Obesity as Disease


Top Healthcare Stocks

JNJ -0.27%

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MRK +0.62%

AMGN -0.57%

Healthcare stocks are narrowly lower, with the NYSE Healthcare Sector Index dropping about 0.2% and shares of healthcare companies in the S&P 500 sliding around 0.1% as a group.

In company news, Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. ( ARNA ), Orexigen Therapeutics Inc ( OREX ) and VIVUS Inc. ( VVUS ) all are higher, with the makers of anti-obesity drug benefiting from a decision on Tuesday by the American Medical Association to classify obesity as a disease.

While the AMA move carries no legal standing, it likely could work to convince more insurers to cover the costs of the companies' weight-loss medications, including ARNA's Belviq and VVUS' Qsymia - both of which have reached the market over the past year following U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval - while marketing approval for OREX's Contrave in the United States still is pending.

Increased insurer acceptance is critical because most consumers are unlikely to pay top-shelf prices for the drugs, according to Seeking Alpha columnist Spencer Osborne, citing a recent Piper Jaffray survey that found only 3.3% of obese people were willing to pay more than $50 for their weight-loss drugs.

At last look, VVUS was posting a 4.6% advance at $14.40 a share while ARNA was up 1.1% to $7.59 a share. OREX recently turned negative for the session, falling 0.5% to $6.35 a share.

In other sector news,

(+) CO, (+3.1%) Fiscal Q4 revenue climbs 33.3% from the same quarter last year to $21.4 mln, breezing past analyst expectations by $4.81 mln. Earnings decline 20% compared to a year ago to $0.05 per ADS, also topping the analyst consensus by $0.03 per share.

(-) BIOD, (-9.7%) Announces plans to sell a yet-to-be-determined number of shares of common stock, subject to market conditions and other factors.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

Copyright (C) 2014 All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: ARNA , OREX , VVUS

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