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UPDATE 1-Correvio Pharma to explore sale after FDA panel setback, shares plunge

(Adds details, shares)

Dec 11 (Reuters) - Correvio Pharma Corp on Wednesday said it would explore options including putting itself up for sale, a day after a panel of experts advising the U.S. health regulator voted against approving its heart drug.

The Canadian drugmaker's U.S.-listed shares plunged 57% to 60 cents in trading before the bell.

The company said it is also taking steps to reduce operating costs in North America and that it has set up a transaction committee within its board of directors.

Correvio did not specify whether its cost reduction measures would involve job cuts and did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for a clarification.

The company had nearly 138 employees in across Europe, U.S, and Canada as of Dec. 31, 2018, according to its annual filing.

Citing serious safety risks, the panel on Tuesday voted https://www.reuters.com/article/us-correvio-pharma-fda/correvios-heart-drug-fails-to-win-fda-panel-backing-idUSKBN1YE2GH 11-2 against the approval of its drug, Brinavess, used to correct atrial fibrillation, a condition that causes irregular rhythm in the upper heart chambers.

The company has been trying to get U.S. approval for the drug since 2006, but safety concerns have led to the Food and Drug Administration declining approval and later putting the U.S. studies on hold after the death of a patient. The hold still remains in place.

A final decision is expected by Dec. 24. While the FDA is not mandated to follow the panel's recommendation, it generally does. (Reporting by Saumya Sibi Joseph in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)