Novartis wins OK for new Japanese Encephalitis jab

The FDA has approved Novartis' application to market the vaccine Ixiaro to guard against Japanese Encephalitis, spurring speculation that the regulatory win might inspire Novartis to move to acquire the vaccine developer that pushed it through early-stage discovery.

Even before the approval, Martin Brunninger, an analyst at Bryan, Garnier & Co., wrote that marketing approval could lead to a bid to acquire Austria's Intercell, which already enjoys a close relationship with Novartis. "Given that depleted pipelines of the majors historically prompted biotech and vaccines acquisitions, we wouldn't rule out a full takeover by Novartis short- or mid-term," he wrote.

A collaboration between the two companies provided Novartis development and commercialization rights to Intercell's early-stage vaccine programs. Novartis also already owns a 16 percent stake in Intercell.

Ixiaro faces a probable approval in Europe, where an advisory committee has already offered its thumbs up to the jab.

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