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Novartis files telbivudine in China for Hep B
  Monday 27 March 2006, 0:58am EST
ZURICH, March 27 (Reuters) - Novartis (NOVN.VX: Quote, Profile, Research) said it had filed its telbivudine drug for the treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis B for approval in China after data showed it was superior to the commonly used treatment lamivudine in Chinese patients.
A Phase III trial in China, a country estimated to have more than 120 million people infected with hepatitis B, showed that telbivudine provided a rapid and profound viral suppression, the Swiss drugmaker said on Monday in a statement.
The drug, previously known as LDT600, has already been filed in the United States and in the European Union.
Chronic hepatitis B, the world's most common serious liver infection, is a potentially fatal disease which is thought to affect over 350 million people worldwide.
Novartis is working with Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ISIX.O: Quote, Profile, Research) on hepatitis B product candidates, including Telbivudine and Valtorcitabine, and has an exclusive option to license in Idenix's Valopicitabine or NM283, a hepatitis C treatment.
The chief executive of Idenix last month projected the global market for hepatitis B drugs would double to $2 billion by 2009, helped by the expected arrival of telbivudine and the expanded use and promotion of other new drugs.
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