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Keep an Eye on Ariad Pharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca, and XOMA Today

By George Budwell - Nov 29, 2013 at 9:34AM

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Ariad Pharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca, and XOMA are three health care stocks poised to be on the move today.

Good morning fellow Fools! It's time to take a look at the post-Thanksgiving movers in health care.

Ariad Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARIA) is continuing to move lower after its monstrous rebound early last week. As a refresher, Ariad shares soared nearly 95% in a two day span following a positive opinion from the Committee for Human Medicinal Products of the European Medicines Agency for the continued availability of the company's leukemia drug Iclusig. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration put a partial hold on Iclusig recently due to an increased risk of blood clotting. Instead of pulling the drug from the market, however, the EMA decided to make five recommendations to minimize the risk of adverse vascular events.

My take is that the market appeared to think -- at least initially -- that the FDA would follow the EMA's lead on Iclusig, which was the real reason for the soaring share price. Now that the news is settling in a bit, I think investors would be wise to exercise caution with Ariad going forward. The EMA could easily place a hold on the drug if these measures don't reduce adverse events, and the FDA is well known to have a mind of its own in these matters.

AstraZeneca (AZN 1.01%) looks to move higher today based on the continued development of its type 2 diabetes franchise. Earlier this month, AstraZeneca and partner Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY 1.59%) received a positive opinion for their diabetes drug Xigduo from the EMA. A final decision on the drug is expected within the first half of next year, and an approval would add yet another drug to AstraZeneca's already formidable franchise. Although AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers face still competition in the diabetes market from Novo Nordisk, their multi-pronged approach to the disease is likely to help increase their share of a multi-billion dollar market. As such, Foolish investors should definitely keep a close watch on this dynamic duo going forward.

XOMA (XOMA 0.75%) could be in for a big post-Thanksgiving move today based on news that the biotech-focused hedge fund Baker Brothers has been snapping up the company's shares as of late. Specifically, the fund now owns more than $100 million in XOMA, and their optimism has paid off handsomely so far this year. Based on the positive clinical development of the company's lead antibody gevokizumab in a wide variety of inflammatory conditions, XOMA shares have nearly doubled year to date.

Although this rise has certainly been impressive, the best may be yet to come. A few weeks ago, XOMA announced compelling proof-of-concept data from two different studies for gevokizumab. During the initial data release, XOMA said it'll move forward with plans to conduct a late-stage trial for gevokizumab as a treatment for pyoderma gangrenosum, a rare type of skin ulcer. And recently, XOMA decided to go forward with a second late-stage trial to study the antibody in erosive osteoarthritis of the hand.

Looking ahead to 2014, XOMA is expected to release top-line data for its late-stage opthalmology trials for gevokizumab called EYEGUARD, where the antibody is being assessed in a diversity of ocular ailments. With this many clinical catalysts coming up, Foolish investors should definitely dig deeper into this developmental-stage biopharma.

George Budwell has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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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Stocks Mentioned

AstraZeneca PLC Stock Quote
AstraZeneca PLC
$67.17 (1.01%) $0.67
XOMA Corporation Stock Quote
XOMA Corporation
$18.70 (0.75%) $0.14
Bristol Myers Squibb Company Stock Quote
Bristol Myers Squibb Company
$75.33 (1.59%) $1.18

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