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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"CONCERNED" - FDA staff eyes safety of Novartis' MS drug

(Reuters) - U.S. regulators expressed concern about potential side effects of Novartis AG's multiple sclerosis pill in patients most at risk for complications.
JUne 8, 2010
Food and Drug Administration staff scientists noted on Tuesday a "clear dose-related effect" on the heart after the first dose of the drug, which Novartis aims to sell under the brand Gilenia. If approved, the drug could be the first pill to treat MS.
Side effects include heart problems, but there was little data on more vulnerable patients, the staff said, noting that further safety signals could crop up in those patients.
The "main limitations of this application are the lack of data in patients with pre-existing conditions who would be at risk for developing eye and cardiovascular complications," one reviewer wrote, noting that it is also unclear whether the drug "may be associated with an increased risk of seizure."
Although FDA reviews cast little doubt on the drug's success in relapsing patients, they said further study was needed not only on such vulnerable patients but also on some of the drug's long-term side effects.

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