Novartis MS pill to cost $48,000 on avg per year

* Novartis to offer reimbursement services for Gilenya

* Gilenya first oral MS treatment to get U.S. backing

ZURICH, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG NOVN.VX said the average annual cost of its oral multiple sclerorsis drug Gilenya will be $48,000 in the United States.

Gilenya won U.S. backing last month to become the first pill for the disease there and some investors believe sales at rivals, such as Biogen Idec Inc BIIB.O, could be hit, as their treatments involve less convenient infusions or injections.

Novartis said it was offering help for some patients to cover the cost of the treatment.

“Novartis ... is committed to providing access for eligible patients, including those who may have difficulty with the cost of their treatment,” Novartis said in a factsheet.

“Patients experiencing financial hardship who have no third-party coverage may be eligible to receive Gilenya at no cost (through an assistance program),” the group said. (Reporting by Katie Reid; Editing by David Holmes)