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January Catalysts for Biotech and Drug Stocks


Biogen, Bristol-Myers, Amylin and others await news from the FDA, while conferences and earnings fill out a busy month.

There will be a number of potentially market-moving events in January for biotech and drug stocks.

The first month of the year kicks off with a pair of health care conferences, including the big J.P. Morgan event in San Francisco. A number of companies will make presentations. There are important Food and Drug Administration approval decisions expected. And look for earnings-related news in the coming weeks.

Here are some of the investment highlights for January. Some of the dates are subject to change.

January 5
Biogen Idec (BIIB), Celgene (CELG) and Merck (MRK) are among the companies expected to present at a Goldman Sachs health care CEO conference in New York. This week, Goldman strategists recommended buying options in companies presenting.

January 9
A number of companies will make presentations at the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco January 9-12. This is a huge, closely watched gathering for publicly traded health care companies. Expect news to be made. Two other conferences (not sponsored by Morgan) are held nearby: Biotech Showcase and OneMedForum.

January 20
Columbia Laboratories (CBRX) faces an FDA advisory panel as the company seeks approval for its drug Prochieve (a progesterone gel) to be used to reduce the risk of preterm births. Columbia licensed the product to Watson Pharmaceuticals (WPI).

Biogen and Elan (ELN) expect to hear from the FDA about revised prescribing information for multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri. The drug is linked to a rare and fatal brain disease. The companies want the drug's label to let doctors know that a blood test can be used to assess risk of the disease in patients.

January 28
Amylin Pharmaceuticals (AMLN) awaits word on possible US approval of Bydureon, a once-weekly version of its diabetes drug Byetta. Alkermes (ALKS) would also stand to gain from an approval as it provided the drug-release technology for the treatment. It's a second go-around for Amylin after the FDA rejected the drug in October 2010, and this time the company is going forward without former development partner Eli Lilly (LLY).

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) and partner AstraZeneca (AZN) are expected to hear from the FDA on their application to sell dapagliflozin for treatment of type 2 diabetes in adults. A panel of experts advising the agency voted 9-6 in July to reject the drug because of concerns the product may pose a cancer risk. (See Bristol-Myers, AstraZeneca Dealt Setback on Diabetes Drug)

January 31
Pfizer (PFE) says it will hold an analyst call in the morning to talk about fourth-quarter results.

Also, look for other companies to report quarterly results and give forecasts as earnings season begins. Amgen (AMGN), the largest biotech drug company, usually reports earnings in January.

Twitter: @brettchase

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