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Novartis Says MS Drug Gilenya Met Goals in Study

From Associated Press (December 15, 2011)

NEW YORK -- Novartis' multiple sclerosis drug Gilenya met its main goal in a late-stage clinical trial, the Swiss drug maker said Thursday, with patients who took Gilenya less likely to have a relapse in symptoms compared with patients who took a placebo.

Novartis said that on an annual basis, patients who took Gilenya were 48 percent less likely to relapse than the patients who received a placebo. This is the company's third late-stage study of Gilenya, which is an oral drug. Novartis said the changes in the previous late-stage trials were similar to the results from the latest study. The company said the Gilenya patients also suffered smaller reductions in brain volume compared to the placebo group.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Gilenya in September 2010. The drug was approved in Europe and several other markets in the first quarter of 2011. Third-quarter sales totaled $153 million.

The results could strengthen Gilenya compared to Biogen Idec Inc.'s drug BG-12, which is still in clinical testing. BG-12 has also cut patient relapses by about half in clinical studies.

Novartis AG shares rose $2, or 3.7 percent, to $55.97 in afternoon trading.

Posted: December 2011