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Updated: Novartis heart-failure drug shows great promise

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Novartis' U.S. headquarters in East Hanover.
Novartis' U.S. headquarters in East Hanover. - (NOVARTIS AG)

(Editor's Note: This story was updated at 4 p.m. with additional material from published reports.)

Novartis, a multinational pharmaceutical company with headquarters in East Hanover, recently released positive findings from its much-anticipated study on a new drug for sufferers of heart failure.

In an interview with Fox Business, David Epstein, Novartis' head of pharmaceuticals, said the launch of Novartis’ new drug, LCZ696, next year promised to be the company's most exciting ever and profit margins on the medicine would be good.

"It will be possibly the most exciting launch the company has ever had," Epstein told investors, according to the report.

NJBIZ spoke with Christi Shaw, U.S. country head and president of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, about some of the implications of the study and the importance of the drug.

“Approximately one in five people will develop heart failure in their lifetime,” Shaw said.  “Fifty percent will die in five years once diagnosed.”

Heart failure is the No. 1 cause of hospitalization of people over 65 and costs the U.S. $30 billion annually.

The study, the largest on heart failure, showed LCZ696 to be superior to ACE-inhibitor enalapril.

“The positive thing about the study is that LCZ was well tolerated,” Shaw said. “And it’s a dual mechanism as opposed to a single mechanism.”

Single mechanism ACE-inhibitors suppress harmful effects by reducing blood pressure. While LCZ696 works on that level, it also works on protective effects by reducing strain on the heart.

LCZ696 reduced the risk of death from cardiovascular causes by 20 percent, heart failure hospitalizations by 21 percent and the risk of all-cause mortality by 16 percent.

The study also found fewer patients experiences adverse side effects with LCZ696 (10.7 percent) as opposed to enalapril (12.3 percent).

The twice-a-day tablet has been granted fast-track status by the FDA, and Novartis will be submitting the drug for approval by the end of the year.

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Andrew Sheldon

Andrew Sheldon

Andrew Sheldon covers technology and education. His email is andrews@njbiz.com and he is @AndrewsNJBIZ on Twitter.

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