UPDATE 1-Shire wins support for Gaucher disease drug in EU

Fri Jun 25, 2010 5:59am EDT

* European Medicines Agency recommends Vpriv

* Follows U.S. regulatory approval of medicine in February

* Shire's Vpriv an alternative to Genzyme's Cerezyme

(Adds details on drug, competition)

LONDON, June 25 (Reuters) - The European Medicines Agency recommended approval of Shire's (SHP.L) Vpriv drug on Friday to treat Gaucher disease, following an accelerated approval process.

The injectable drug will serve as an alternative to Genzyme's GENZ.O Cerezyme, which is in short supply due to manufacturing problems.

The European green light follows an approval in February in the United States, where Shire has taken aim at its rival with plans to sell its drug at a 15 percent discount to Cerezyme. At $200,000 on average for a year, Cerezyme is one of the world's most expensive drugs.

Recommendations for marketing approval by the European agency's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) are normally endorsed by the European Commission within a couple of months.

Vpriv, known generically as velaglucerase, is an important new product for Shire, which is focusing its business increasingly on rare genetic disorders.

Gaucher disease affects people who lack enough of a certain enzyme. Too much fat can build up in the body and prevent organs from working. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Hans Peters)

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