Sector Update: Healthcare Losses Adding Up; Zalicus Rallies After Merger Partner Reports Positive Results for Prospective Arthritis Drug

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Healthcare stocks were lower in late afternoon trade with the NYSE Healthcare Sector Index off 0.5% and shares of healthcare companies in the S&P 500 also down 0.6% as a group.

In company news, Zalicus Inc. ( ZLCS ) shares rallied Thursday after its propsed acquisition target announced positive Phase III trial results of its BOW015 drug candidate in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis.

Epirus Biopharmaceuticals today said arthritis patients participating in the 16-week study of the biosimilar infliximab achieved an 89.8% response rate, exceeding the 86.4% response to patients treated with a previously approved arthritis drug, Remicade, and meeting the trial's pre-specified statistical endpoint.

The company said BOW015 also met key secondary objectives, including long-term efficacy, safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity. Testing is continuing with one-year safety and long-term responder rates are expected during Q3.

ZLCS in April announced an agreement to acquire Epirus in an all-stock transaction. Following the deal, ZCLS shareholders will own between 14% to 19% of the combined companies, depending on how much cash Epirus has on hand at closing.

Shares climbed as much as 56% today to reach a session high of $1.69 each, more recently trading around $1.46 a share, up 35%. The stock has a 52-week range of 86 cents to $8.28 a share, declining almost 58% over the past year.

In other sector news,

(+) MSLI, Announces $22.1 mln bought-deal financing with underwriters purchasing 13 mln shares at $1.70 apiece, a 4.3% premium over Wednesday's closing price. Proceeds will be used for future acquisitions and general working capital.

(-) ONVO, Q4 net loss widens to $25.8 million, or $0.35 per share, from a $16.1 million net loss in year-ago period. Revenue jumps 76.2% year over year to $379,000. No analyst estimates were available for comparison.

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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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