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Healthcare Stocks Dropping; Vertex Pharmaceuticals Retreats After Steep Drop in Q1 Sales

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Healthcare stocks were most lower Friday, with the NYSE Healthcare Sector Index sinking about 0.5% and shares of healthcare companies in the S&P 500 falling around 0.6% as a group.

In company news, shares of Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc (VRTX,VRX.TO) were lower Friday after the drug-maker reported a 64% decline in Q1 revenue compared to year-ago levels after sales of its once-hot hepatitis C drug dwindled to nearly nothing and the company choose to refocus its development and marketing efforts on its cystic fibrosis medications.

Net product revenue from its Incivek hepatitis C drug fell 98% compared with year-ago levels to just $3.9 million during the first three months of 2014 as rival medications overtook it. Overall, revenue was down 64% year over year to $118.5 million, including $99.5 million in revenue during the quarter from its Kalydeco cystic fibrosis drug.

VRTX also narrowed its net loss for the quarter, losing $232.5 million, or $1.00 per share, compared with a $308 million net loss during the same quarter last year. Excluding one-time items, it lost $0.65 per share. Analysts, on average, were expecting a $0.68 per share net loss on around $134.6 million in revenue.

Separately, Thursday, the company said when Kalydeco was combined with the company's VX-661 drug candidate during a 28-day proof of concept study, it resulted in a 4.6% improvement in lung function in patients with cystic fibrosis compared to patients in the control group.

VRTX shares were down more than 2% in recent trade at $67.50 each, earlier sliding to a session low of $66.66 a share. The stock has a range of $58.06 to $89.96 a share over the past year, declining about 13% in value over that span.

In other sector news,

(+) RXII, (+19.2%) Announces positive test results for its RXI-109 drug candidate, reducing levels of a protein that helps form scars after being injected into the eyes of cynomolgus monkeys.

(-) IMMU, (-21.0%) Prices underwritten public offering of 9 mln shares of ts common stock at $3.35 each - a 19% discount to Thursday's closing price. Proceeds will fund Phase III testing of its prospective pancreatic cancer drug as well as other trials.

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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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