Advisory panel backs Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Avalide for wider use

An FDA advisory panel voted Wednesday in favor of approving Bristol-Myers Squibb’s blockbuster blood pressure drug Avalide for wider use in patients not previously treated for high blood pressure. Avalide, part of the larger Avalide-Avapro franchise that earned $1.1 billion in 2006 global sales, is currently only approved for hypertension patients who have failed other types of treatment. The advisory panel’s vote will be taken into consideration by FDA regulators when they decide at a later date whether to approve the drug. Analysts predict approval won’t have too much of an impact on company sales since the drug is already prescribed off-label for untreated patients.