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Novartis (NVS) agreed to pay $8.7 billion for AveXis (AVXS), a gene therapy company, as the big drug maker looks to deals to refresh its drug development pipeline. The move comes shortly after Novartis chief executive Vasant Narasimhan agreed to cash out of its consumer health joint venture with GlaxoSmithKline. The deal is a bet that at least one promising drug that AveXis is developing for therapies aimed at spinal muscular atrophy will translate into a blockbuster and, as STAT notes, is the second foray by Novartis into gene therapy this year.

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