Novartis AG Sees Boost From Program Designed to Speed Life-Saving Therapies

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Just as Novartis AG (NOVN)’s best-selling medicines are losing patent protection, the company is poised to get a revenue boost from a U.S. program designed to speed life- saving therapies to patients with few treatment options. Novartis, Europe’s biggest drugmaker, plans to seek approval to sell a new lung-cancer treatment as soon as next year after winning a “breakthrough” designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The breakthrough program is a response to demands from doctors and patients for quicker access to medicines under development. Earlier entry to the $5.8 billion lung-cancer market would help Novartis, based in Basel, Switzerland, fill a growing revenue gap as best-selling products Diovan for hypertension and Gleevec for cancer face competition from generic copies. The heart drug started to lose patent protection last year; Gleevec will be open to copies starting in 2015. Together, they generated $9.1 billion in sales last year.

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