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UPDATE 1-U.S. panel backs Novartis transplant drug -- FDA

* Panel backs everolimus for kidney transplant patients

* FDA usually follows panel recommendations

(Adds Novartis comments)

WASHINGTON, Dec 7 (Reuters) - A U.S. advisory panel recommended approval of a Novartis AG NOVN.VX drug to prevent rejection of transplanted kidneys, a Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman said on Monday.

The panel voted 11-1 to urge FDA clearance of the drug, everolimus, for patients who have undergone kidney transplants, FDA spokeswoman Karen Mahoney said. The agency usually approves drugs that win support from advisory panels.

Novartis sells everolimus outside the United States for transplant patients under the brand name Certican. The company also markets the same active ingredient in the cancer drug Afinitor.

The panel recommended that the company adopt a risk management plan to minimize potential side effects from the drug, Novartis said in a statement. The company said it has proposed such a plan to help guide doctors and patients on proper use.

Prescription drugs such as everolimus are designed to keep the body from rejecting a transplanted organ.

In 2008, an estimated 16,500 kidney transplants were performed in the United States, Novartis said.

Novartis shares closed 5 cents lower at $55.50 on Monday on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Lisa Richwine; editing by Tim Dobbyn and Andre Grenon)

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