Plavix news fires up pharma stocks

Mumbai, March 22 | Updated: Mar 23 2006, 05:30am hrs
On a day when the bourses witnessed across-the-board profit-booking, pharma stocks managed to buck the trend with most of the heavyweights and side counters moving northwards. The BSE Healthcare index of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) was the only sectoral index that ended the day in the black by gaining more than 1% on Wednesday.

According to analysts tracking the sector, the positive trend can be attributed to the settlement news between Sanofi-Aventis and Apotex Inc over the drug Plavix. "French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis has settled a patent lawsuit against Apotex Inc for a generic version of the blood thinner Plavix and there are expectations that a similar settlement would also be reached with Dr Reddy's Laboratories, which is also mulling a low-cost version of the drug. This created a positive sentiment for the complete sector," said a pharma analyst of a leading domestic brokerage.

Incidentally, Plavix is the world's second-largest selling drug after Pfizer's Lipitor. On BSE, the stock of Aventis Pharma Ltd gained a marginal 0.52% or Rs 9.75 to end the day at Rs 1,899.50.

However, sector heavyweight Dr Reddy's Laboratories stole the show by gaining nearly 10% or Rs 130.75 to end the day at Rs 1,489.35. Not surprisingly, the stock was also the biggest gainer among the Sensex pack, which boasted of only 11 gainers.

Lupin Ltd (up 3.20% at Rs 974.50), Cadila Healthcare (2.61% up at Rs 662.35), Strides Arcolab (gaining 2.42% at Rs 355.50), Matrix Labs (up 1.67% at Rs 262.35) and Torrent Pharma (1.17% gain at Rs 195) all closed in the black. Cipla Ltd, Nicholas Piramal India Ltd, Sun Pharmaceuticals Ltd and GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Ltd also notched up marginal ground on Wednesday.