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Sector Update: Health Care

Healthcare stocks were solidly in the black Tuesday afternoon with the NYSE Healthcare Sector Index ahead about 0.7% and shares of healthcare companies in the S&P 500 rising 1.2% as a group.

In company news, Actavis plc ( ACT ) shares overcame early weakness to reach a new, all-time high Tuesday afternoon despite the New York state attorney general late yesterday filing an antitrust lawsuit seeking to stop the drug-maker from forcing patients with Alzheimer's disease to switch to a more costly version of a widely used medication.

Forest Laboratories, now owned by ACT, announced in February that it would stop selling the existing tablet form of the drug, Namenda, in favor of new extended-release capsules called Namenda XR that can be taken once a day instead of twice. The lawsuit contends that the switch was designed to blunt competition from low-priced generic versions of the drug.

The old tablets are slated to lose their patent protection next July. ACT has said patients generally have preferred the newer drug, although the company also has made little secret of its desire to switch all patients to the newer form, which has a longer patent life.

ACT shares were up 1.6% at $238.54 each in recent trade, recently climbing to a new record high at $239.34 a share. Over the past 12 months, the stock has risen nearly 72% through yesterday's close.

In other sector news,

(+) SSH, (+6.9%) Reports no patient deaths or major adverse events among the six people receiving the company's C-Pulse Heart Assist System during clinical trial of the devices.

(-) NBY, (-6.2%) Announces plans to feature its i-Lid Cleanser with Neutrox for the first time at the International Vision Expo & Conference starting Wednesday in Las Vegas.

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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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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