London, September 1
A “revolutionary” new treatment to lower cholesterol will be made available to thousands of patients through the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) following a “world-leading deal” announced on Wednesday.
The game-changing drug, inclisiran, is delivered as an injection twice a year and can be used alongside statins, adding to the options available to patients to help control their cholesterol levels.
The NHS says it has been estimated that inclisiran could prevent 55,000 heart attacks and strokes, saving 30,000 lives within the next decade.
Its deal with Swiss pharmaceutical major Novartis means around 300,000 patients with high cholesterol and a history of cardiovascular disease can benefit from the lifesaving drug over the next three years, a figure that could rise to nearly half a million people beyond that initial period.
“The NHS is committed to using cutting-edge treatments to save and improve patients’ lives,” said Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the NHS.
“Heart disease is still one of the major killer conditions so it is fantastic that we now have such an effective and convenient treatment for those living with dangerously high cholesterol levels. This world-leading deal for the rollout of inclisiran will save lives and enable hundreds of thousands of people to benefit from this revolutionary treatment, while also being fair to taxpayers,” she said.
More than two in five people in England have high cholesterol which puts them at significant risk of developing heart disease, and around 6.5 million adults in England are currently taking lipid-lowering drugs such as statins. The NHS said it is rolling the injection out at an unprecedented scale because the health service and manufacturer have concluded a deal that enables the NHS to utilise inclisiran at an affordable and cost-effective price.
“With heart disease being the number one cause of death globally, we’ve worked with the NHS to respond to this urgent need with pioneering solutions that can deliver rapid access to innovative medicines at scale,” said Vas Narasimhan, the Indian-origin CEO of Novartis.
“Solutions like this can’t be implemented by one entity alone, and we’re proud to collaborate with the NHS on a concerted effort that could potentially revolutionise the way society approaches the treatment of cardiovascular disease,” he said.
Heart disease is the world’s biggest killer and annually accounts for around a quarter of deaths in England, with 1,40,000 people dying from the condition each year.
Jules Payne, chief executive of HEART UK cholesterol charity, said: “High cholesterol is very common and a major cause of cardiovascular disease, but the lack of symptoms means the first sign of the problem is often a heart attack.
“HEART UK aims to save lives and keep families together, and we welcome this new innovative medicine as an additional tool in the armour against cardiovascular disease.”
Nurses will be able to administer inclisiran as an injection in general practice (GP) surgeries across England, meaning patients can avoid regular visits to the hospital. After an initial dose, the drug will be given again after three months and then twice a year.
The treatment is being rolled out across the NHS following clinical trials, which showed that inclisiran lowers the level of a type of fatty substance called LDL-C found in the blood. High levels of LDL-C makes people more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke.
The cholesterol-lowering treatment uses RNA interference (RNAi) to boost the liver’s ability to remove harmful cholesterol from the blood. The NHS said it is using its commercial drug deal for inclisiran as an opportunity to find and treat a large population affected by a leading health challenge, helping to secure maximum value from the NHS budget for new medicines. PTI
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