By Makiko KitamuraDec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Novartis AG?s multiple sclerosis pill Gilenya failed for a second time to gain the backing of the U.K.?s health-cost agency, denting the company?s ambitions to turn the drug into a multibillion-dollar-a-year blockbuster.Novartis failed to show that Gilenya would be cost effective compared with existing options available even after the drugmaker proposed a discount, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence said in a statement today. NICE said in August the annual cost for the medicine, also known as fingolimod, was about 19,196 pounds ($30,134).Gilenya, approved in Europe in March as the first oral treatment for MS, is among the products that Basel, Switzerland- based Novartis is counting on to fuel sales growth as patents start to expire on the company?s best-selling treatments, including the hypertension pill Diovan.?While Novartis submitted evidence that shows fingolimod can reduce relapses, our independent committee has not been convinced that it is a cost effective treatment option,? Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE, said in the statement.NICE advises the state-run National Health Service on which medicines represent value for money as the U.K. government works to save as much as 20 billion pounds a year on medical expenses.
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