An experimental drug has reduced deaths from chronic heart failure by 20 per cent compared with an existing treatment, a new study has claimed.
The drug, being developed by the Swiss pharma giant Novartis, could reach the patients in the US and Europe by next year.
In a large clinical trial, the drug reduced both the risk of dying from cardiovascular causes and the risk of being hospitalised for worsening heart failure by about 20 per cent.
"I think that when physicians see these data, they will find it compelling, and what we will see is a paradigm shift," said Dr Milton Packer, a professor of clinical sciences at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre in Dallas and one of the two principal investigators in the study.
According to Novartis executives, the company will file for approval of the drug, called LCZ696, in the US by the end of the year and in Europe in the first quarter of 2015, 'The New York Times' reported.
That means the drug could get to patients as early as next year.
"It's very rare that a drug like this comes along, one where people live longer, have less hospitalisations and other costs and feel better," said David Epstein, the head of Novartis's pharmaceutical division.
The research involved more than 8,400 patients in 47 countries who were randomised to receive either LCZ696 or enalapril, one of a class of drugs called ACE inhibitors that have been the standard treatment for heart failure.
The patients were followed for a median of 27 months. By that point, 21.8 per cent of those who received LCZ696 had died from a cardiovascular cause or had been hospitalised for worsening heart failure, the report said.
Researchers found that figure was 26.5 per cent for those receiving enalapril. That represents a 20 per cent relative reduction in risk.
The reductions in risk for both cardiovascular death alone and hospitalisation alone were also about 20 per cent. About 32 patients had to be treated with LCZ696 to prevent one death from cardiovascular causes.
The research was published in The New England Journal of Medicine.