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Market Remains Muddled

For some of the biotech companies in InterWest Partners� portfolio, the firm is �considering [both] shutting the company down,� says Chris Ehrlich, an InterWest partner, �and filing an s-1� to initiate the process of taking the company public. InterWest isn�t unique. Skeptical practicality partnered with tempered optimism now characterizes the market as a whole.

The renewed vigor of biotechnology, evidenced by a 40% climb for the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index since the beginning of the year and a surge of more than a dozen IPO filings, helped to push the Nasdaq much higher over the three-month period. This eclipsed the steadily growing overall market interest in the life sciences through late summer and into fall.

Agbio and agrochemical companies saw an improved reception, and health care services continued to fare well. Nutraceutical companies, however, were still taking a bath. The popularity of teeth whitening and straightening technologies from companies like BriteSmile and Align Technology have been helping to keep dental devices a high-performing category.

Among the companies to gain the most ground, three health care services providers topped the list. Next were the medical diagnostics companies Amersham and IGEN; they are being acquired by General Electric and Roche, respectively. And positive clinical trial results gave pharmaceutical companies Onyx and Inspire a big bump up.

Among the companies losing territory was Trimeris, which suffered a flurry of analyst downgrades based on downwardly revised demand estimates for its new AIDS drug, Fuzeon. CV Therapeutics was hurt by a delay in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of its angina treatment, Ranexa. Poor quarterly results hit both Merck and WebMD, and the pharmacy-benefits manager Express Scripts tumbled in the wake of an announced merger between its competitors Caremark and AdvancePCS.

Copyright © 2003 Acumen Sciences, LLC, All Rights Reserved.

Additional charts accompanying text include:

Top Gainers

Top Decliners

Best- and Worst-Performing Sectors

Life Sciences Market Performance

Industry Sector Breakdown



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