The NHS says the revolutionary new treatment, 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.
This first NHS ‘population health agreement’ agreed between the NHS and Novartis will enable 300,000 patients with high cholesterol and a history of cardiovascular disease to benefit from the lifesaving drug over the next three years. This figure that could rise to nearly half a million people beyond that initial period.
It has been estimated that inclisiran could prevent 55,000 heart attacks and strokes, saving 30,000 lives within the next decade.
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 currently taking lipid-lowering drugs such as statins.
Chief executive of the NHS, Amanda Pritchard, said: “The NHS is committed to using cutting-edge treatments to save and improve patients’ lives.
“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.”
Heart disease is the world’s biggest killer and annually accounts for around a quarter of deaths in England, with 140,000 people dying from the condition each year.
Nurses will be able to administer inclisiran as an injection in GP surgeries across England, meaning patients can avoid regular visits to 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 make people more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke.
The NHS says it is rolling the injection out at 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. It has been reported that it normally costs £2,000 per dose.
The cholesterol-lowering treatment uses RNA interference (RNAi) to boost the liver’s ability to remove harmful cholesterol from the blood.
Preventing thousands of heart attacks and strokes over the next 10 years is a priority as set out in its Long Term Plan, says the NHS.
It is using this 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.
Jules Payne, chief executive of HEART UK, 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.”
Helen Wilson, head of research at Heart Research UK, said: “This innovative medicine has the potential to save the lives of many people who have already had a heart attack or stroke, by reducing their risk of life-threatening cardiovascular events in the future. It is very good news that there is an alternative treatment option when statins are not effective enough.”
Vas Narasimhan, CEO of Novartis, said: “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.
“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.”
Last week, the NHS announced that everyone aged 40 and over will be offered a free blood pressure check at high-street pharmacies in a move to help prevent thousands of strokes and heart attacks and save an estimated 2,000 lives.
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