British cost body recommends Sanofi MS drug Lemtrada

LONDON Tue May 27, 2014 7:01pm EDT

LONDON May 28 (Reuters) - Britain's healthcare cost-effectiveness watchdog is recommending Sanofi's new multiple sclerosis drug Lemtrada as a treatment option on the state health service, it said on Wednesday.

The green light follows previous uncertainty about the value of the product, which led the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to call in December for more information from the manufacturer.

Lemtrada, an injectable treatment also known as alemtuzumab, was approved in Europe in September. It is still awaiting approval in the United States, where experts have raised questions about its safety and the quality of clinical studies.

The drug was at the heart of Sanofi's $20.1 billion takeover battle for U.S. biotech firm Genzyme, which developed the drug for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. The medicine was originally invented by scientists at the University of Cambridge, who started work on it in 1991.

As part of the takeover deal, Genzyme shareholders received contingent value rights, known as CVRs, entitling them to future payments of up to $14 a share, depending on the success of Lemtrada. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by David Goodman)

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