July 24, 2020 / 12:50 PM / 13 days ago

Novartis sickle cell drug Adakveo put on path to EU approval

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss drugmaker Novartis is pictured at the French company's headquarters in Rueil-Malmaison near Paris, France, April 22, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

ZURICH (Reuters) - Novartis’s (NOVN.S) sickle cell disease treatment Adakveo appears set for European approval after a key committee on Friday gave its backing to the drug that booked $36 million (28 million pounds) in first-half U.S. sales.

The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use of the European Medicines Agency adopted a positive opinion, which the European Commission nearly always follows.

Sickle cell disease commonly afflicts people of African descent, as a gene trait that may have developed to confer survival benefits for malaria causes lifelong health problems including pain and death for those with the disease.

Adakveo was developed to reduce pain crisis, and Novartis eventually sees the drug as a $1 billion-per-year seller. It has faced some price resistance as a U.S. group that analyses drug value says it should be priced at less than a third of its roughly $88,000 cost now.

Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Michael Shields

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