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Novartis goes after Roche asthma medicine Xolair with new drug

Novartis goes after Roche asthma medicine Xolair with new drug
FILE PHOTO: Swiss drugmaker Novartis' logo is seen at the company's plant in the northern Swiss town of Stein, Switzerland October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo -
Arnd Wiegmann(Reuters)
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ZURICH (Reuters) – Novartis <NOVN.S> said it is pushing ahead with a late-stage study of its experimental drug ligelizumab after announcing the medicine outperformed Roche’s <ROG.S> Xolair in a Phase II clinical trial against urticaria, also known as hives.

The move sets the stage for a new head-to-head battle between the Swiss drug giants. Xolair had 1.74 billion Swiss francs (1.37 billion pounds) in sales in 2017 and is a pillar of Roche’s immunology franchise, but Novartis sees an opportunity and plans two Phase III studies with more than 2,000 patients who suffer from chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU).

(Reporting by John Miller; editing by Thomas Seythal)

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