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Just as the biotech world penciled in Kite Pharma as the winner of the race to launch the first CAR-T cancer therapy, Novartis crept in from behind and took the lead. But beyond fueling a day-to-day debate among insiders, is coming in first in CAR-T really all that important?

With Wednesday’s announcement, Novartis is on track to win a pioneering FDA approval in about six months. Kite, which has promised to file its lead CAR-T any day now, will have to wait on the agency to accept its application and decide whether to give the company the fast-track review it granted Novartis. Advantage: Swiss pharma behemoth.

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