4 Stories to Watch This Week in the Health-Care Sector

As we approach the end of the year and investors' focus shifts to the looming fiscal cliff and Christmas present purchases, news in the health-care sector is getting scarce. Still, I've dug up four newsworthy stories that should keep your attention in the upcoming week.

In terms of biotech decisions, all eyes should be fixed on GlaxoSmithKline's (NYSE: GSK  ) biologics license application resubmission to the FDA for its inhalation anthrax drug, Raxibacumab. In early November, the FDA panel voted almost overwhelmingly (16-1, with one abstention) in favor of recommending the drug for approval, with a unanimous 18-0 vote in favor of its safety-benefit profile. This news should have Emergent BioSolutions (NYSE: EBS  ) shareoholders on the edge of their seats, as their company has four anthrax-focused drugs in development and the company recently signed a multiyear contract with the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.

Beyond this lone FDA decision -- expected by Saturday Dec. 15, may I add -- three earnings events should dominate the attention of health-care investors this week.

Biotech deviant Peregrine Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: PPHM  ) is set to kick off the week by reporting its year-end results on Monday. Although the results themselves won't be extremely crucial -- but I do expect its cash position to be a closely watched metric -- any additional information regarding what it plans to do with its cancer pipeline will be closely monitored. Last week, Peregrine noted that the FDA accepted its proposed trial design for its experimental glioblastoma drug, Cotara. This comes just months after Peregrine imploded after noting that its clinical data on cancer drug bavituximab couldn't be relied on because of third-party errors. Needless to say, Peregrine's Q&A session with analysts should be interesting.

Avanir Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AVNR  ) is next up on Tuesday, although we'll be expecting far fewer surprises from this biopharmaceutical, which preannounced its results two weeks ago. Avanir noted that sales of its pseudobulbar affect drug, Nuedexta, increased 26% sequentially to $15.4 million over the prior quarter. In addition, Avanir updated that it's begun early-stage clinical trials of AVP-786. As with Peregrine, I believe investors will be very interested in what Avanir has to say regarding its pipeline

Finally, and also reporting Tuesday, is health-care solutions provider Magellan Health Services (NASDAQ: MGLN  ) which has beaten Wall Street estimates in three of the past four quarters. With the looming implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, many health-plan providers have been slammed. That's not been the case for Magellan, which trades at a "lofty" forward P/E near 13. If values abound in this sector as I've surmised, then Magellan had better have a near-perfect quarter to maintain its current valuation.

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