Can Novartis salvage a blockbuster hopeful from the scrap heap?

Can a Cox-2 inhibitor pulled from the market four years ago make a comeback? Novartis evidently intends to find out, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Citing Novartis's annual report, the business news service says that the pharma company has submitted Joicela--named Prexige when it was marketed earlier--to EU regulators for approval. Novartis is evidently staying mum, though, about its regulatory plans in the U.S. The agency rejected Prexige in 2007, pointing to the potential for liver damage. Back in 2009, Novartis officials discussed resubmitting the pain drug with a genetic test which could flag patients prone to liver damage, Bloomberg reports.

Once tapped as a prospective blockbuster, Joicela could theoretically offer some help to Novartis as it positions itself for generic competition to Diovan, its best-selling drug. But analysts don't sound very hopeful.

"Zombie products are never very much fun," Bank Vontobel's Andrew Weiss told Bloomberg. "It looks like Novartis is trying to launch anything they can get their hands on. They must be really nervous about the patent situation."

- here's the story from Bloomberg