Regulators in Europe have said that Novartis can market its asthma treatment Xolair to young children.

The European Commission has approved Xolair (omalizumab) as add-on therapy for severe persistent allergic asthma in children aged six to 11 years. The treatment is already available for patients aged 12 and older and is co-marketed in the USA with Roche’s Genentech unit.

The latest approval, which comes a couple of months after the European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use issued a positive opinion on Xolair, is based in part on a study which showed that Xolair reduced asthma attacks by 34% after 24 weeks of treatment and provided an overall reduction of 50% at one year in patients aged six to 11 years.

In another study, Xolair was shown to significantly reduce the need for oral corticosteroids when used in children aged six to 11. Novartis also noted that children taking the drug missed 46% fewer school days

Meantime, Novartis has also expanded a deal with UCB which will see the Belgian drugmaker market more of the Swiss major’s cardiovascular and diabetes products in Germany.

Under the terms of the agreement, financial details for which were not disclosed, UCB has extended commercial rights for the German market to cover the cardiovascular drug Provas (valsartan) beyond 2011, and has licensed-in commercial rights for two antihypertensives, Dafiro (valsartan/amlodipine; sold in other markets as Exforge) and Dafiro HCT (valsartan/amlodipine/hydrochlorothiazide). UCB said the deal includes rights to co-commercialise two new oral diabetes drugs, Jalra (vildagliptin), known elsewhere as Galvus, and Icandra (vildagliptin/metformin).