Novartis sees GSK's cancer drugs as potential blockbusters

Reuters

Novartis believes GlaxoSmithKline's cancer drugs Votrient, Tafinlar and Mekinist could have more than $1 billion in sales each, the head of the Swiss company's pharmaceutical unit said on Tuesday.

"We believe Votrient, Tafinlar, Mekinist - assuming the (combination) trial is positive for overall survival - all three of these products could become blockbusters in our hands," David Epstein told an investor call.

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Novartis said on Tuesday it had agreed to buy GSK's cancer drugs for $14.5 billion plus another $1.5 billion that depends on the results of a trial in melanoma.

GSK has won priority review from U.S. regulators for the dual use of Tafinlar, also known as dabrafenib, and Mekinist, or trametinib, as a treatment for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Votrient, which has the chemical name pazopanib, has been approved by many regulators as a treatment for advanced kidney cancer and some types of soft cell sarcomas.

(Reporting by Caroline Copley)