Kedem adapting Novartis' Gleevec to dissolve under tongue

Kedem Pharmaceuticals has begun developing a child-friendly version of Novartis' ($NVS) cancer blockbuster Gleevec that would have a decent taste and dissolve under the tongue.

In announcing plans for a sublingual version of Gleevec, the Phoenix-based company ($KDMP) did not disclose details of its development arrangement for the drug.

The FDA approved Gleevec more than a decade ago, and the multibillion-dollar compound now treats a number of blood-related cancers in adults and children. For kids, Gleevec has been particularly effective against chronic myeloid leukemia, Kedem notes.

A child-friendly version of the drug could help increase children's compliance with treatment and make it easier to take. The current version is administered orally in large pill form and doesn't taste very good. Kedem said its version is designed to mask the nasty taste, and by taking it under the tongue, will be easier to take for children who must ingest the drug regularly. (But does masking a bad taste make the medicine taste good? We'll see.)

Novartis markets the oral prescription version of Gleevec, and the drug has generated billions annually for the company. But as Bloomberg noted in a story earlier this year, the company will begin losing patents on Gleevec starting in 2014—two years away.

- here's the release

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