Sector Update: Healthcare
Healthcare stocks were retreating Friday with the NYSE Healthcare Sector Index slipping abouty 0.1% and shares of healthcare companies in the S&P 500 declining 0.3% as a group.
In company news, Vertex Pharmaceuticals ( VRTX ) shares were narrowly lower Friday, receiving little apparent lift from an European advisory panel recommending additional approvals for the company's drug treatment for cystic fibrosis.
VRTX shares were down about 0.7% this afternoon at $92.52 each, earlier falling to a session low of $91.97 a share. The stock has a 52-week range of $58.06 to $98.80 a share, climbing 15% over the past 12 months.
The European Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use late yesterday issued a positive opinion recommending approval of VRTX's Kalydeco medication for eight additional gating mutations of cystic fibrosis. The recommendations now goes to the European Commission, which typically decides marketing approvals within three to four months.
Kalydeco was first approved for use in Europe two years ago for people with cystic fibrosis ages 6 and older who have at least one copy of the G551D mutation, the most common gating mutation.
The company said the eight additional gating mutations included in today's recommendation are: G178R, S549N, S549R, G551S, G1244E, S1251N, S1255P and G1349D. In Europe, approximately 250 people ages 6 and older have one of these non-G551D gating mutations.
In other sector news,
(+) DRRX, (+9.6%) Secures $20 mln in debt financing with Oxford Finance, with the fixed-rate 7.96%, four-year term loan requiring interest-only payments during the first 18 months and all principal and interest repaid by July 1, 2018.
(-) IG, (-2.8%) Settles legal fight with Mallinckrodt ( MNK ) and Nuvo Research (NRI.TO), agreeing to delay launch of generic version of Pennsaid osteoarthritis drug until March 28, 2015. IG received tentative FDA approval for the drug May 7.