Healthcare Business Recap: Eli Lilly’s FDA Approval, Bio-Rad Laboratories Chatter

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The FDA approves Eli Lilly’s (NYSE:LLY) radioactive diagnostic agent Amyvid for use in helping to identify characteristics of Alzheimer’s Disease through brain imaging. Lilly expects to market the treatment through its Avid Radiopharmaceuticals unit.

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Shares of Optimer Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:OPTR) were halted premarket, then allowed to go forward following the announcement of the removal of the firm’s Chairman, CFO, and a VP, due to lapses in corporate governance practices. Also, OPtimer warns that its first quarter revenue will be lower than consensus.

Monday was bad news day for several health care related companies, as the State of Ohio announced that they would not see their Medicade contracts to serve that state’s members renewed. Molina Healthcare (NYSE:MOH) was among the unlucky firms, as Cantor Fitzgerald downgraded shares from Buy to Hold, noting that “offsetting the loss of more than 20 percent of its revenue could be difficult, particularly since new markets are initially less profitable.”. Susquehanna and Cantor also cut Molina’s shares, and Susquehanna downgraded those of Centene (NYSE:CNC), which was also included in the group, to Nuetral. The latter company, however, plans to appeal Ohio’s decision, because if it goes through it would involve some 9 percent of the 1.8 million members on its books at the end of 2011. Shares of other firms whose contracts will not be renewed trade lower as well, including Amerigroup (NYSE:AGP) and WellCare Health Plans (NYSE:WCG).

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Street chatter indicates life sciences equipment producer Bio-Rad Laboratories (NYSE:BIO), whose valuation is relatively low and is run by prudent management, could be a tempting “bolt-on” purchase for either Thermo Fisher (NYSE:TMO) or Life Technologies (NASDAQ:LIFE).

Critical delays in the key Phase 3 clinical trial for InterMune’s (NASDAQ:ITMN) respiratory drug Esbriet send its shares falling, and cause their prices targets to be cut by Jefferies and Leerink Swann. First Intermune had projected that enrollment for the Phase 3 trial would be finished in its second quarter, and then last week it said that the process wouldn’t be complete until the end of the current year.

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