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GEN News Highlights : Sep 10, 2010

Russian Authorities Become First to Sanction Novartis’ Oral MS Therapy

FDA decision expected later this month following positive advisory-committee recommendation.

Russian regulatory authorities have approved Novartis’ Gilenya® 0.5 mg once-daily oral treatment (FTY720; fingolimod) for relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS). Russia is the first country to approve the sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor (S1PR) modulator, and Novartis plans to launch the drug in early 2011.

An FDA decision on Gilenya is expected during September, and the outlook for U.S. approval looks promising, given that the agency’s advisory committee gave the drug a unanimous thumbs up back in June. Gilenya is also under review by the European Medicines Agency and by other regulatory bodies worldwide.

Novartis says Gilenya is the first oral therapy for treating relapsing MS. The Phase III trial program confirmed the drug reduces relapses, disability progression over two years, and brain lesions. Data also showed Gilenya to be more effective than Biogen Idec’s Avonex®, the firm adds. The FDA granted Gilenya priority review status in February 2010, reducing the standard ten-month review to six months. In May, the FDA extended the priority review period by three months to September 2010.