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Healthcare Reverse Small Declines Earlier; Ariad Pharma Presents Positive Data For Leukemia Treatment

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Healthcare stocks turned around earlier losses and were slightly higher in late trade with the NYSE Healthcare Sector Index rising about 0.1% and shares of healthcare companies in the S&P 500 climbing about 0.2% as a group.

In company news, Ariad Pharmaceuticals ( ARIA ) rose Monday after the oncology company said early and mid-stage data for its ponatinib drug candidate continues to demonstrate anti-leukemic activity in patients with limited treatment options.

The testing found progression-free survival in 67% of the patients after two years with an overall survival rate of 86% over two years. But longer-term safety data also saw 18% of the patients experience a vascular occlusive serious adverse event, with the company saying physicians should carefully weigh the potential risks and benefits of ponatinib therapy, particularly in patients who may be at increased risk for vascular occlusive events.

The Food and Drug Administration last October placed a partial hold on new patient enrollment in company-sponsored trials due to an accumulation of arterial thrombotic events.

ARIA shares were ahead about 7.4% at $6.94 each this afternoon, earlier climbing to an intra-day high of $7.50 a share. The stock has a 52-week range of $2.15 to $23.00 a share, declining 62.7% over the past 12 months.

In other sector news,

(+) NPSP, The Financial Times reports Shire plc ( SHPG ) is interested in a takeover of the drugmaker, recently setting up a $5 bln credit facility with bank consortium led by Citigroup to finance a prospective deal.

(-) CLVS, CEO Pat Mahaffay this weekend reportedly tells analysts "three or four" lung cancer patients participating in the company's Phase I/II study of its CO-1686 drug candidate are taking insulin to control high blood sugar.

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

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