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UK's NICE Backs Novartis Eye Drug, Reversing Earlier Guidance

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10/05/2012 | 01:16am CEST

By Marta Falconi

ZURICH--The U.K.'s health costs watchdog has reversed earlier guidance and now recommends eye drug Lucentis for a new use, after its maker Novartis AG (>> Novartis AG) offered a better price.

The U.K's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, or NICE, recommends the drug for certain patients who suffer from visual impairment caused by diabetic macular oedema, the regulator said Friday. Without discount, Lucentis costs 742.17 pounds ($1,195) per injection and is given monthly, NICE said.

The new draft guidance is now up for consultation.

NICE decides if particular treatments should be used on the state-run National Health Service. The watchdog had previously rejected Lucentis for diabetic macular oedema, a condition caused by fluid collecting in the central part of the retina, which leads to blurred central vision and other problems.

The drug is already recommended to treat wet age-related macular degeneration.

Novartis said it was pleased with NICE's decision, but lamented the watchdog's move to restrict Lucentis to only those patients with more thickened retinas.

"This has undervalued the benefits that Lucentis provides to all patients with visual impairment due to diabetic macular oedema," the company said.

The Swiss company said it will continue to work with NICE and other health authorities until final draft guidance is issued by early 2013.

Lucentis, which generated nearly 2.05 billion Swiss francs ($2.19 billion) in sales in 2011, was co-developed by Novartis and Swiss rival Roche Holding AG (ROG.VX). Novartis markets the medicine outside the U.S.

Write to Marta Falconi at marta.falconi@dowjones.com

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

Stocks mentioned in the article : Novartis AG
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Financials ($)
Sales 2017 48 668 M
EBIT 2017 11 971 M
Net income 2017 7 307 M
Debt 2017 15 947 M
Yield 2017 3,45%
P/E ratio 2017 23,78
P/E ratio 2018 20,97
EV / Sales 2017 4,78x
EV / Sales 2018 4,57x
Capitalization 216 443 M
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Novartis Technical Analysis Chart | NOVN | CH0012005267 | 4-Traders
Technical analysis trends NOVARTIS
Short TermMid-TermLong Term
Income Statement Evolution
Mean consensus OUTPERFORM
Number of Analysts 32
Average target price 87,3 $
Spread / Average Target 5,5%
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Joseph Jimenez Chief Executive Officer
Hans Jörg Reinhardt Independent Non-Executive Chairman
Harry Kirsch Chief Financial Officer
Vasant Narasimhan Chief Medical Officer & Head-Drug Development
Srikant Madhav Datar Independent Non-Executive Director
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