June 1, 2018 / 11:43 AM / 4 months ago

Novartis wins key European panel's thumbs-up for migraine drug

June 1 (Reuters) - Novartis's new migraine drug Aimovig won a key recommendation from a key European panel on Friday, helping open the way for potential sales before the end of the year for a medicine the Swiss drugmaker is counting on to boost growth.

After receiving the nod from the European Medicines Agency's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) the drug for treating migraine headaches in adults still needs approval by the European Commission, but it usually follows the CHMP recommendation.

The drug, developed by Novartis and Amgen Inc, Aimovig won approval in the United States two weeks ago .

The medicine, also called erenumab or AMG334, is the first in a new class of treatments designed to prevent migraine by interfering with calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), which is involved in the processes that kick off the severe headaches, such as dilation of blood vessels in the brain.

In the United States, Amgen and Novartis are pricing the self-injection drug at $6,900 a year, or $575 a month, before discounts. There, prescription benefits managers had taken aim at the drug, announcing in advance that they saw it as a test case to help rein in prices.

Novartis has not said what it will charge in Europe, where prices differ from country to country.

Competition could eventually also become fierce. Companies including Teva Pharmaceutical Industries <TEVA.TA,> Eli Lilly & Co and Alder Biopharmaceuticals Inc are developing similar treatments.

Analysts, on average, have forecast annual Aimovig sales of nearly $1 billion by 2022, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, with Novartis sharing a smaller piece of the proceeds.

Novartis and Amgen are selling Aimovig in the United States. Amgen has commercialization rights in Japan, while Novartis has the rights elsewhere. (Reporting by John Miller in Zurich and Justin George Varghese in Bengaluru Editing by Edmund Blair)

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