Sep 02, 2014
By Jane Brown
It’s said to be one of the biggest potential advances against heart failure in more than a decade. A new study – the largest of its kind – has discovered that an experimental drug lowered the chances of early death or hospitalization by about 20 percent.
Doctors say the Novartis drug — which does not yet have a name — seems like a rare, breakthrough therapy that could quickly change care for more than half of all heart failure patients.
“This is a new day” for patients, said Dr. Clyde Yancy, cardiology chief at Northwestern University in Chicago and a former American Heart Association president. “It’s been at least a decade since we’ve had a breakthrough of this magnitude,” said Yancy, who had no role in the study.
The study involved nearly 8500 people in 47 countries. The research was paid for, designed and partly run by Swiss-based Novartis. Independent monitors stopped the study in April, seven months earlier than planned, when it was clear the drug was better than an older one that is standard now.
“We are really excited,” said one study leader, Dr. Milton Packer of UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. The benefit “exceeded our original expectations.” Results were disclosed Saturday at a European Society of Cardiology conference in Barcelona and published online by the New England Journal of Medicine.