UPDATE 1-Denmark backs generic lung drug in threat to GSK sales
(Adds background, shares)
LONDON, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Denmark has approved the sale of an inhaled lung drug that analysts think is a generic copy of GlaxoSmithKline's $8 billion-a-year blockbuster Advair, threatening the British drugmaker's future sales.
Britain's Vectura said on Wednesday that its partner Sandoz - the generics division of Novartis - had received approval of AirFluSal Forspiro, which was previously know as VR315.
The green light marks the first approval of the product in Europe.
Investors in GSK, Britain's biggest drugmaker, have been bracing for generic competition to Advair, which is also is also known as Seretide and Viani, but exactly when generics would reach the market has been uncertain.
Inhaled drugs such as Advair are difficult to copy because of the complexity of making a device that works effectively to deliver the medicine directly into the lungs.
Vectura said its new advanced inhaler was designed for patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease but did not specify it was a copy of Advair. It said it would release further details in due course.
Shares in GSK fell 1.6 percent following the news, underperforming a 0.5 percent advance in the European healthcare index, while Vectura stock gained 6.2 percent by 1205 GMT. Novartis was up 0.9 percent.
(Reporting by Paul Sandle and Ben Hirschler; Editing by Kate Kelland)