Thousands of lives to be saved through NHS cholesterol lowering drug

Thousands of NHS patients are expected to benefit from a new cholesterol lowering drug, as a result of a world-leading deal, announced by the chief executive of the NHS today.

This first NHS ‘population health agreement’, was announced today and agreed between the NHS and Novartis. It 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 is thought to rise to nearly half a million people beyond that initial period.

It has been estimated that the new treatment, Inclisiran, could prevent 55,000 heart attacks and strokes, saving 30,000 lives within the next decade.

This follows on from the successful clinical trials which showed that Inclisiran lowers the level of a type of fatty substance called LDL-C found in the blood.

Those with high levels of LDL-C are more likely to suffer from a heart attack or stroke.

Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive of the NHS, 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.”

More than two in five people in England have high cholesterol which puts them at a significant risk of developing heart disease, and around 6.5 million adults in England are currently taking lipid-lowering drugs such as statins.

The new treatment 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.

Heart disease is regarded as the world’s biggest cause of death, and annually accounts for around a quarter of deaths in England, with 140,000 people dying from the condition each year.

Patients will be able to receive the treatment in their GP surgeries across England, which will be administered as an injection by the nurses. This help patients avoid the need to attend the hospital regularly. After an initial dose, the drug will be given again after three months and then twice a year.

Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “This ground-breaking new drug further demonstrates the UK’s excellent track record for identifying the world’s most innovative treatments and ensuring NHS patients are able to access them at the earliest opportunity.

“This is a huge step forward in tackling the scourge of heart disease, which tragically kills thousands every year.

“I want to thank the NHS, Novartis and NICE for this work to help treat one of the world’s deadliest diseases.”

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, in particular for the higher risk patient population.”

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 to help prevent thousands of strokes and heart attacks and save an estimated 2,000 lives.

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