Cancer

Novartis breast cancer drug Kisqali wins European panel backing

A sign marks a building on Novartis' campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., February 28, 2017. Picture taken February 28, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
A sign marks a building on Novartis’ campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., February 28, 2017. Picture taken February 28, 2017.

A European Medicines Agency (EMA) panel recommended on Friday approving Novartis’s Kisqali drug, bolstering the Swiss drugmaker’s bid to challenge rival Pfizer’s Ibrance against tough-to-treat breast cancer.

The EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) backed Kisqali in combination with hormone therapy as a first-line treatment for hormone receptor positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 negative locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer.

Kisqali got the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s blessing in March. This latest CHMP opinion sets the stage for likely European Commission approval this year.

Friday’s announcement, while expected, underscores Novartis’s push to strengthen an oncology portfolio hurt last year by the patent expiration on blood cancer drug Glivec, exposing what was once its top-selling medicine to growing generic…