Novartis (NYSE:NVS) said in a press release that Tasigna, a drug currently in development that targets a form of leukemia, seems to treat the disease more effectively than the company's existing medication, Glivec -- sold as Gleevec in the United States.

The company said two-year data from its research indicates that patients who showed evidence of chronic myeloid leukemia after being treated with Glivec had undetectable levels following a switch to the new drug. Novartis characterized its findings as "statistically significant".

The company will launch a clinical trial early next year to ascertain whether patients showing positive results will be able to stop treatment entirely after a certain period of time.

Glivec will lose patent exclusivity in 2015.

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