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Drug Stocks: Real Downers And At A Two-Year Low

CNBC.com

Yes, it was a big down day for equities, but I wanted to call attention to the fact that according to one of our resident stock gurus, Robert Hum, the Amex Pharmaceutical Index(you can see the 15 stocks that make up the so-called DRG here) closed at a two-year low today.

It finished the day 312.25 at falling through the 313.72 level it hit during the January market meltdown.

Only one of the stocks in the index was up today. That'd beForest Labs which announced positive dataon a one-a-day version of its twice-a-day Alzheimer's drug Namenda. Reducing the amount of times an Alzheimer's patient or their caregiver has to remember to take a pill is a big deal. FRX closed off of its intra-day high, but on a day with such a huge downdraft, the drug data helped prop up the stock of that major drug company.

And after the bell, there's more potentially positive news for two major drugmakers. A study being published in the "Journal of the American Medical Association" could help boost sales of the bloodthinner Plavix from Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis . It says patients who have drug-coated stents greatly increased their risk of death or heart attack shortly after they stopped taking Plavix.

But Dr. Sidney Smith, Professor of Medicine at the University of North Carolina and the Chair of the Practice Guidelines Task Force for the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, says more studies are needed. He calls the results "hypothesis generating" and adds, "We would need a little stronger evidence," before considering whether to change the AHA-ACC guidelines to keep the majority of drug-coated stent patients on Plavix for more than a year.

Next up on the drug docket. Biogen-Idec reports earnings and holds a conference call Wednesday morning before the markets open. I wonder if they'll have anything to say about Carl Icahn and his proxy battle to get three of his people on the Board or whether the lawyers put a muzzle on the company.

Then, on Thursday we hear from GlaxoSmithKline. We'll have a "First on CNBC" interview with GSK CEO JP Garnier on "The Call" at 11 a.m. ET that day. It'll be his second-to-last quarterly earnings appearance before stepping down this Spring.

I'm not sure either company's earnings will move the Amex Pharmaceutical Index. One could argue that might depend more on the outcome of Super Tuesday.

Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com

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BIIB
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BMY
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FRX
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GSK
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SNI
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