Astonishing new heart failure drug developed that cuts risks by a fifth

Written by Reuters | Barcelona | Updated: Sep 1 2014, 17:42pm hrs
NovartisThe experimental treatment, known at LCZ696, cut the risk of both cardiovascular death and admissions to hospital by a fifth. (Reuters)
A new medicine from Novartis could replace drugs that have been central to treating heart failure for a quarter of century, after proving remarkably effective in reducing deaths in a keenly awaited study.

The experimental treatment, known at LCZ696, cut the risk of both cardiovascular death and admissions to hospital by a fifth, boosting hopes for a product seen as a multibillion-dollar seller thanks, in part, to its expected premium price.

Given the survival advantage of LCZ696 over currently available drugs, once this drug becomes available, it would be difficult to understand why physicians would continue to use traditional (drugs) ... for the treatment of heart failure, said Milton Packer, joint-principal investigator on the study with John McMurray, who called the result astonishing.

There has been little progress for more than a decade in treating chronic heart failure, so there is considerable excitement about the new medicine among doctors and investors.

The drug also made patients feel measurably better, underscoring the case for it to replace existing treatments and bolstering expectations for multibillion-dollar sales.