Will key French review go against Multaq?

Sanofi-Aventis' key new heart drug Multaq is facing a tough review in France. Used to treat irregular heartbeat, Multaq has been under consideration by a commission that helps determine how much the government will pay for the drug.

That commission has given Multaq a "moderate" rating, the French newspaper La Tribune reports, meaning that the drug may be sold at a lower price than rival treatments--and it may only be reimbursed at 35 percent. Luckily for Sanofi, the commission doesn't make the final decision: Its opinion is "consultative," the paper notes (as quoted by Reuters).

The French health ministry's economic committee is the one that will negotiate final reimbursement terms with the company. And you can bet that Sanofi will be pushing hard for higher reimbursement. The company views Multaq as a key part of its attempt to make up for sales lost to rivals when patents expire on some of its best-selling drugs--such as the megablockbuster blood-thinner Plavix.

Indeed, Sanofi jumped on the Tribune report, saying that the commission is still evaluating Multaq. "No final opinion has been issued," a spokesman tells Dow Jones.

- read the Reuters piece
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