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BD Shares Rise on FDA OK for MRSA Test, Stock Upgrade

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Shares of Becton Dickinson rose nearly 4 percent today after the firm announced that the US Food and Drug Administration had cleared its GeneOhm StaphSR assay for identifying Staphylococcus aureus and methicillin-resistant S. aureus from patients with positive blood cultures in around two hours.
 
BD’s shares hit an all-time high of $88.17 in early trade before settling back to close at $86.78, up 3.8 percent for the day, on the New York Stock Exchange.
 
According to BD, the StaphSR assay is the first molecular-based test to identify and distinguish SA and MRSA infections, thus enabling physicians to make earlier diagnoses of these infections and potentially save lives and significantly reduce healthcare costs.
 
BD already sells an earlier-generation of the test, the GeneOhm MRSA assay, which it gained through its 2006 acquisition of GeneOhm Sciences for $230 million and an extra $25 million in incentives.
 
BD’s tests compete with a molecular MRSA assay sold by Cepheid, which was cleared for marketing by the FDA last April. Cepheid claims its test can be performed on its GeneXpert system and can identify MRSA infection in just over one hour.
 
Cepheid officials recently said that the firm intends to launch a combination MRSA/SA test for skin and soft tissue infections in 2008.
 
While BD's shares rose, Cepheid's shares closed down 2.6 percent on the Nasdaq.
 
In addition to the FDA clearance, BD’s shares were boosted by investment bank JPMorgan upgrading the company’s stock to “overweight” from “neutral” and raising its fiscal 2008 profit estimate for the firm to $4.36 per share from $4.32.
 
JPMorgan analyst Michael Weinstein said in a research note that BD is “well positioned in some of today’s more attractive MedTech segments, including both safety-infection control and molecular diagnostics.”
 
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