Novartis to file for two new potential blockbusters, restates Chiron interest

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Novartis plans to submit two potential blockbuster drugs for U.S. regulatory approval in early 2006, the drugmaker said prior to its pipeline update in London today.
Novartis' plans include filing for FDA approval for an experimental diabetes drug vildagliptin, also known as LAF237, and another drug, the first in a new class of blood pressure-lowering medications, called Aliskiren or SPP100.
Vildagliptin belongs to a new class of drugs called dipeptidyl-peptidase IV, or DPP-IV inhibitors and possesses blockbuster potential, said Joerg Reinhardt, head of development at Novartis, during a conference call with reporters. Merck is also developing a drug in this class called sitagliptin.
The blood pressure drug Aliskiren was developed in combination with Speedel, a Swiss biopharmaceutical company.
Novartis was expected to present two studies on Aliskiren at its pipeline update today.
Reinhardt told reporters he also expects Aliskiren to achieve blockbuster status.
Meanwhile, Novartis chief executive Daniel Vasella reiterated the company's willingness to control U.S. vaccine company Chiron.
"Chiron faces a multitude of challenges it can better address as a Novartis entity," Vasella said at a presentation to analysts in London, a Wall Street Journal article today reported.
A Novartis spokesman told the newspaper that the company has no intention of overpaying and has a walk-away price.
Novartis currently has a 42-percent stake in Chiron. Last month, Novartis decided to take control of Chiron, offering to pay $4.5 billion for the remaining 58 percent it doesn't own. Chiron rejected the bid as too low.
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