5 Things to Watch This Week in the Health-Care Sector

The markets have had a very good year in 2012 and much of that has to do with the outperformance of the health-care sector. Can all facets of the health-care sector continue climbing to new highs? That answer could lie in what happens with regard to these five stories bound to make waves next week:

Aegerion Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: AEGR  ) and Isis Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: ISIS  ) are both on deck this week to go before the Endocrinological and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee. Aegerion's lomitapide and Isis' mipomersen, which is being developed with the help of Sanofi, are aimed at lowering cholesterol in patients with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, or HoFH. As my colleague Brian Orelli points out, those who have the disease have few options for treatment at the moment, so the major side effect of fat buildup in the liver, which is prevalent for both lomitapide and mipomersen, is unlikely to phase the advisory panel and stir too many safety concerns. Look for Aegerion's meeting on Wednesday and Isis on Thursday.

NPS Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: NPSP  ) should be looking forward to its meeting with the FDA advisory panel on Tuesday following word on Friday that the Gastrointestinal Drug Advisory Committee is recommending its short bowel syndrome drug, Gattex, despite finding three separate concerns with the drug. As Brian also pointed noted, of the 43 patient study, only four dropped out -- and three of those were using the placebo. Gattex has already been approved in Europe under the name Revestive, and with safety issues slowly dwindling, the hope is that Tuesday should be a cakewalk for NPS. 

Friday is make or break time for Supernus Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: SUPN  ) which is expected to receive a decision on SPN-804, an epilepsy drug that showed significant reduction in seizures at higher doses. Supernus already has Trokendi XR slated for approved by the FDA to treat epilepsy, however, it may not be available for complete approval until marketing exclusivity on pediatric patients expires in June 2013. Therefore, investors should keep an eye on SPN-804 which did have quite a few adverse side effects reported, however, the only noted death in the study came from a patient using the placebo. 

On the earnings front, next week is slated to be a big week for medical device companies. Stryker, Baxter International, St. Jude Medical, Laboratory Corp. of America, Quest Diagnostics, and Intuitive Surgical (Nasdaq: ISRG  ) are all slated to report their earnings . Intuitive will likely have the most to gain or lose from its report as it trades at the loftiest valuation of the group. It's worth keeping in mind that very few of Intuitive Surgical's peers have been able to translate their designs into actual results, which should continue to yield positive growth results for Intuitive and its robotic da Vinci Surgical systems. Intuitive Surgical's earnings report is scheduled for Tuesday after the market close and analysts will be looking for $3.50 in EPS on $535 million in sales .

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Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.

The Motley Fool owns shares of St. Jude Medical, and Intuitive Surgical. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Laboratory Corp. of America, Quest Diagnostics, and Intuitive Surgical. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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