CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Days before his company is expected to win approval of the most expensive drug ever, the head of Swiss drug giant Novartis said Wednesday he could justify charging up to $5 million for the revolutionary treatment for a rare genetic disease, but it will end up being priced at a fraction of that.

Speaking at the company’s biomedical research institute, Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan wouldn’t disclose the price of the drug, called Zolgensma, until the government approves it, probably by the end of the month. Zolgensma treats spinal muscular atrophy, or SMA, a deadly neurodegenerative disease.

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