September 28, 2023

New drug makes strides in heart failure treatment, study says

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novartisBy Kari Paul From Mashable

Researchers announced on Saturday an experimental drug that significantly reduces the negative effects of heart failure. Some are calling it “one of the biggest potential advances” against the disease in more than 10 years.

Currently called LCZ696, the drug is being developed by Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. A release from Novartis suggested that LCZ696 cut the risk of death and hospitalization from heart failure by a fifth, and measurably improved patients’ quality of life.

“By demonstrating a very significant reduction in cardiovascular deaths while improving quality of life, Novartis’ new heart failure medicine, LCZ696, represents one of the most important cardiology advances of the last decade,” David Epstein, division head of Novartis said in a release.

LCZ696 is a twice-a-day pill that combines two active medications that work to block negative substances that harm heart function, and enable substances that enhance it, according to the release. The pill also reportedly dilates the heart’s blood vessels, improving its ability to pump blood to the body.

The Novartis study involved 8,442 patients, and compared LCZ696 to an older drug that has been proven to increase survival rates for heart failure. LCZ696 reportedly outperformed the older drug, and the trial was completed months early due to overwhelmingly beneficial results. The study was presented on Saturday at the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) in Barcelona, according to Reuters.

There has been very little progress so far in the treatment of chronic heart failure, Reuters reported. Around 600,000 people die of heart disease in the U.S. every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A variety of outdated, generic medicines already exist to treat the disease, but medical professionals have been seeking a better solution for years. “Everything has been pretty stalled in heart failure,” Keith Fox, a cardiologist at the University of Edinburgh, told Reuters.

Other alternative treatments have been tested in recent years, but failed due to negative side effects, including too-low blood pressure and serious swelling beneath the skin, according to the Associated Press.

The much-anticipated new drug has been received with enthusiastic support from both investors and health experts. Analyst forecasts put the drug’s value at $1.9 billion in 2019, four years after its expected launch date, Reuters reported.

Mariell Jessup, president of the American Heart Association, said in an editorial accompanying the study that the drug “may well represent a new threshold of hope for patients with heart failure.”

Novartis will seek approval for LCZ696 from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by the end of this year and from Europe by the first quarter of 2015. The company has declined to comment on the daily cost of the pills, but analysts predict that a daily dose of medication (two pills) will cost $7 in the U.S. and $4 in Europe.


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