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NHS to pioneer Novartis injection that reduces cholesterol

Published on 14/01/20 at 09:30am

The NHS in England is pioneering a new twice-a-year injection, inclisiran, which reduces bad cholesterol.

It has reached a deal with Novartis, which has agreed to provide inclisiran injections free in exchange for data from the five-year trial, which will be carried out by NHS staff. Once the drug is approved and has gone through a cost-effectiveness evaluation by NICE, expected in 2021, the drug's price will have to be negotiated with the company.

Patients who are at a high risk of having a heart attack or stroke, but haven’t yet had one, will be invited to take part in the latest large scale trial for the injection. It is estimated that about 40,000 people may be eligible. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the initiate could save 30,000 lives over the coming decade.

Inclisiran works by silencing the PCSK9 gene which can make the liver absorb more bad cholesterol from the blood and break it down. Trials presented at the European Society of Cardiology in 2019 showed it could cut bad cholesterol levels in half within weeks. The Department of Health and Social Care says it would prevent 55,000 heart attacks and strokes each year.

Jacob George, a professor from the University of Dundee, said: “Whilst inclisiran has not yet been assessed by the European Medicines Agency or the FDA, giving patients access to these innovative new medications within the safety confines of a large-scale trial is welcome news.”

Currently, most people use statins to lower their cholesterol, but studies have shown they don’t work well in roughly half of people who take them. Trial data suggests that statins can be work well with the new inclisiran injection.

Conor Kavanagh

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