GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) has won support from the European Medicines Agency for its proposed new lupus drug.

The EU agency’s Committee for Medicinal products for Human Use offered a “positive opinion” for Benlysta and recommended marketing authorization for it.

GSK is developing the drug in partnership wit Human Genome Sciences.

The EU must still grant final approval, which could occur in the next three months, GSK said.

“A positive recommendation from the CHMP is a major milestone in the clinical development program for Benlysta,” said Moncef Slaoui, chairman,of GSK Research and Development.

In March, he Food and Drug Administration approved Benlysta as the first new drug to treat lupus in over 50 years, a milestone that medical experts say could prompt development of other drugs that are even more effective in treating the debilitating immune system disorder. (Read details here.)

The news could mean a financial boon for Maryland-based Human Genome Sciences and GSK.

Analysts estimate the drug could reach annual sales exceeding $3 billion within five years.

GSK maintains its U.S. headquarters in RTP and employs some 4,000 people in the area.

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