Healthcare Biz Recap: Vivus’ PATENT Problem, Idenix Survives Clinical HOLD

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Patents for Vivus, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:VVUS) weight-loss drug Qsymia are the main concern for investors, as analysts such as Jefferies thinks that physicians might opt for generics, as the branded med might not be covered by payors, plus the likelihood that the generic alternates would be less expensive for their patients. Jefferies downgraded the shares to Underperform, which is what they did on the day.

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The clinical hold that the FDA placed the hepatitis C treatment of Idenix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:IDIX), caused a large fall Thursday, but shares rebounded slightly Friday as they were upgraded at Brean Murray to Hold from Sell. In addition, Leerink Swann keeps its Outperform, thinking that the clinical hold might simply have been a precaution.

Shares of Pluristem Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:PSTI) spiked and then cratered on Friday after word on Thursday that it got permission from the Health Ministry of India to go forward with a Phase II clinical trial for the treatment of Buerger’s disease. The trial might be followed by a larger multi-national Phase III.

WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP) shares dipped then rebounded following a Morgan Stanley downgrade to Equal-Weight Friday morning. The company explains that it faces new pressure from an unfavorable combo of commercial health-insurance prices and medical costs, and that its “risk-reward looks less compelling” than that of its peer group. WellPoint reduced its fiscal year 2012 guidance in July because of slumping membership, and the analyst foresees that trend not easing over the second half as well.

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