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3 Humongous Health-Care Stocks This Week

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There's big, and then there's big. These three health-care stocks experienced gains of the latter category this week. Here's what happened.

Pleasant dreams
An FDA advisory panel recommendation announced on Thursday just might enable some Americans to sleep well -- and allow Vanda Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: VNDA  ) to enjoy pleasant dreams. Shares of the company surged a whopping 134% for the week.

Vanda's tasimelteon targets a condition called non-24-hour disorder, a circadian rhythm disease that prevents around 80,000 Americans who are blind from sleeping well. The FDA advisory panel voted 10-0 to recommend tasimelteon for approval. Members of the panel also unanimously agreed that the drug was safe for use.

The FDA is scheduled to make the ultimate approval decision on tasimelteon by Jan. 31. If the drug gets a thumbs-up, it will be Vanda's second drug on the market. The company's schizophrenia drug Fanapt is licensed to Novartis.

Seeing dollar signs in 3-D
Organovo Holdings
(NASDAQ: ONVO  ) lands in the second spot on our humongous list this week. Shares skyrocketed more than 52% after the 3-D bioprinting technology company provided its quarterly business update.

With most companies, investors focus on the revenue and earnings numbers from those updates. That's not the case with Organovo, which hauled in only $23,000 from collaborations and lost over $10 million during the third quarter. Instead, the excitement over Organovo stems from what could be just around the corner.

CEO Keith Murphy said that the company is on track to launch its first product next year -- a liver toxicity assay using 3-D bioprinted liver tissue. While it's still only in its infancy, the type of 3-D bioprinting being pioneered by Organovo could prove to be a game-changer in the world of medicine over time.

Patent patience
Some investors have worried that Cadence Pharmaceuticals (UNKNOWN: CADX.DL  ) could face generic competition for injectable fever and pain reliever Ofirmev. If they held on, though, their patience paid off. Shares of Cadence jumped nearly 39% this week after a court ruled favorably on two patents covering the drug.

Cadence sued Exela Pharma Sciences in 2011 after Exela filed for regulatory approval of a generic version of Ofirmev. Earlier this week, the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware ruled that Exela's submission infringed on two patents held by Cadence.

With the favorable decision, Cadence now can enjoy patent protection for Ofirmev for several more years. The first patent upheld by the court expires in 2017, with the other patent expiring in 2021. Ofirmev generated $50.2 million in revenue for Cadence last year and over $77 million in the first nine months of 2013.

Not big enough
Our top three stocks racked up such enormous gains that plenty of big winners this week didn't quite cut it. ViroPharma (UNKNOWN: VPHM.DL  ) , however, deserves an honorable mention. Shares of the biotech shot up nearly 26% for the week after Shire (NASDAQ: SHPG  ) announced its $4.2 billion buyout of the company.

This deal wasn't a surprise to anyone. ViroPharma's hereditary angioedema, or HAE, drug Cinryze is a good fit for Shire, which has its own HAE drug, Firazyr. Surprise or not, it led to quite a nice few days for ViroPharma stockholders.

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