A new heart disease drug hailed as “life changing” has been approved for use in areas of the United Kingdom.
The manufacturer, Novartis, and the National Health Service (NHS) of England and Wales struck a deal to offer the drug at a reduced cost.
The decision came after a global trial showed that the drug can “safely cut cholesterol by 50%.”
If 300,000 people receive the drug, as planned, a projected 30,000 people could avoid premature death due to heart attacks and strokes.
About half of the U.K.’s adult population currently has cholesterol levels above national guidelines, and almost 8 million people in the country are taking lipid-lowering drugs to combat this.
Now, a new drug already deemed a game changer could prevent 55,000 heart attacks and strokes in the U.K., saving more than 30,000 lives within the next decade.
The drug is called inclisiran, and it is administered as an injection. It boosts the liver’s ability to reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, known as “bad” cholesterol.
Too much LDL cholesterol can lead to a buildup of fatty deposits called plaques in the blood vessels.
Over time, these deposits get larger and limit the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart. They may also suddenly break off and clog arteries or make them less flexible.
If these plaques cut off blood flow to the heart, it can lead to a heart attack. If this happens in an artery leading to the brain, it can cause a stroke.
The announcement of inclisiran’s approval for use in England and Wales on Wednesday, September 1 came after months of negotiations between the NHS and the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis.
This followed the results of a global trial led by Imperial College London, which showed that the drug was highly effective.
Phase 3 trials showed that when administered 6 months apart, inclisiran lowered cholesterol levels by up to 50%.
The deal represents a first-of-its-kind approach to population health management. It came after approval from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and an agreement with Novartis to lower the price.