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In a boost to Novartis (NVS), the National Health Service in England has agreed to provide some coverage for its CAR-T gene therapy for combating leukemia in children and young people, a move that may give the drug maker an edge in a closely watched showdown with Gilead Sciences (GILD).

Specifically, the Novartis drug, which is called Kymriah, will be made available through the Cancer Drugs Fund, a government program that was established in 2010 to provide patients with access to cancer drugs not available through the NHS because the treatments were not viewed as cost effective by a separate U.K. government agency.

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