Study finds new benefits in highly promising heart drug

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An experimental heart drug from Novartis that has shown exceptional results in reducing death and hospitalizations also provides a lengthy list of additional benefits, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association meeting in Chicago and reported by Reuters. Hailed as a potential multibillion-seller after trial results were reported earlier this year, the drug, LCZ696 curtails worsening of symptoms, the need for additional therapy and emergency-room visits. It also significantly decreases the number of intensive care unit stays, a Paradigm-HF study of 8,442 patients from the University of Glasgow has found.

The drug bowled over doctors in August when results of a large clinical trial showed a 20% reduction in risk of dying from cardiovascular causes and of hospitalizations for worsening heart failure. The new benefits add to the allure of a drug expected to become the product of choice if approved. LCZ696 has the potential to alter the progression of the disease as it reduces or slows the decline in heart function and, as more treatments and hospital visits are avoided, to reduce treatment costs.

"It's almost too good to be true, at least in my long experience of doing trials in heart failure," said Dr. John McMurray, the co-lead investigator of the study who presented the data.

Novartis said it plans to file applications seeking U.S. approval this year and in Europe in early 2015.

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