Friday, March 21, 2008

EU agency backs Novartis drug Extavia for M

LONDON, March 20 (Reuters) - The European Medicines Agency has recommended approval of Novartis' (NOVN.VX: Quote, Profile, Research) Extavia intended for treatment of people with multiple sclerosis, the London-based watchdog said on Thursday.

Recommendations for marketing approval by the agency's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) are normally endorsed by the European Commission within a couple of months.

The drug is the company's branded version of Bayer AG's (BAYG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research) Betaseron, interferon beta-1b, that gives Novartis an important presence in MS treatment before the anticipated submission of its once-daily therapy FTY720 (fingolimod).

Last March Novartis and Bayer settled a dispute over Betaseron in a deal that gave Bayer full control of the product while allowing Novartis to launch a version in 2009.

Multiple sclerosis affects more than an estimated 2.5 million patients worldwide and is one of the leading causes of neurological disability in young adults. (Reporting by Michael Kahn; Editing by Rory Channing)

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