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News Update for week ending 26 April 2002


Novartis has been awarded the prestigious Prix Galien, in France for the second year in a row. This year's winning compound is Glivec, a treatment for patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML).

Glivec is one of the first cancer drugs to be developed using rational drug design, which is based on an understanding of how some cancer cells work. Results from drug trials show very promising results. Forty-one per cent of patients had complete disappearance of cancer cells at 18 months. The study concluded that the leukaemia had either regressed or not progressed in 89 per cent of patients in the trial.

"It's especially rewarding to win the award for Glivec. This is a drug that the entire company worked very hard to bring to the market and it offers CML patients real hope against their cancer," says Thomas Ebeling CEO of Novartis.

Glivec was approved for use in New Zealand in October 2001. Novartis and Pharmac are presently in discussion over funding. Pharmac chief executive Wayne McNee descried the discussions as positive and constructive.

"These meetings show Pharmac and Novartis have mutually aligned objectives, and are prepared to work together to address the issues surrounding the funding of Glivec," he says.

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