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Judge seeks FDA ruling on Novartis drug

April 18, 2006
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Reuters reports that a federal judge has ordered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to decide after a long delay whether Novartis AG can market a version of human growth hormone similar to one already sold by Pfizer Inc. The order by Judge Ricardo Urbina of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia could put pressure on the FDA to come up with guidelines for approving generic copies of biotechnology drugs, the report said. The agency for several years has said it was close to issuing such guidelines, but has failed to deliver them. Sandoz, the generics arm of Novartis, sued the FDA last September for leaving its copycat product in limbo, a move designed to break a logjam over so-called biogenerics. The FDA in November sought a dismissal of the U.S. lawsuit, saying the charges were unfounded since its experts had not finished their review of the Novartis drug, called Omnitrope. The FDA has not yet approved any generic, or "biosimilar," forms of biotech drugs even though expensive biotech medicines are quickly becoming favored treatments for a range of diseases, including cancer and arthritis.

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