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FDA approves first Alzheimer's skin patch

Novartis' skin patch for Alzheimer's gets FDA's green light; solution for forgetting pills unlikely to boost sales.

By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The FDA approved the first skin patch for the treatment of Alzheimer's, produced by the drugmaker Novartis.

The Swiss company Novartis (down $0.11 to $55.22, Charts) said on Monday that the Food and Drug Administration approved its Exelon patch for treatment of "mild to moderate" Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, both diseases that cause dementia.

The patch provides "significant improvement in memory and ability to perform everyday activities," according to Novartis. Also, the company said the 24-hour patch causes less problems with nausea and vomiting than the currently-available oral capsule version of Exelon.

"It's good for Alzheimer's because you don't have to remember to take your pill," said Les Funtleyder, analyst for Miller Tabak. But he said that Exelon is not a big seller for Novartis, and offering up a patch in addition to a pill is unlikely to significantly boost sales.

Novartis is one of the leading drugmakers in Europe, competing with the French company Sanofi-Aventis (down $0.04 to $41.80, Charts) and the British company GlaxoSmithKline (down $0.06 to $51.74, Charts). Top of page