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Health chiefs gave the “game-changer” drug the go-ahead today after a deal was done with makers Novartis for discounted supplies of the solution, which is sold as Leqvio. Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, welcomed the NHS use of the cholesterol-busting jab. “This is a huge step forward in tackling the scourge of heart disease, which tragically kills thousands every year,” he said. Some 6.5 million people in England take drugs such as statins to cut their risk of suffering heart attacks of suffering heart attacks and strokes. Trials showed that inclisiran and statins used together can reduce harmful cholesterol by up to 80 percent.
Kausik Ray, a professor of public health at Imperial College London, has conducted trials of inclisiran for the last six years.
He said: “It’s a game-changer. This is great news for our patients.
“We know that with statins alone many people won’t get an adequate reduction in cholesterol and need a second drug. The convenience of this is that twice a year dosing will give you 50 percent lowering [of cholesterol].”
He added: “That will be a huge advantage because we know patients’ cholesterol can vary when they forget medications or don’t get refills.”
Writing in the Daily Express, Mr Javid said inclisiran was expected to save 30,000 lives and prevent 55,000 heart attacks and strokes within a decade.
He added: “This is a huge step forward in tackling the scourge of heart disease, which tragically kills thousands every year. With the right treatment and a healthy lifestyle, this disease can be prevented and loved ones can be protected.
“Which is why this unprecedented agreement is truly a triumph for the NHS and its patients, enabling them to live longer, healthier and happier lives.”
The cost of inclisiran for a six-monthly injection is £1,987
Inclisiran will be prescribed for patients who have a history of heart disease and whose levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol have not been lowered sufficiently by using other medication.
It will be administered in combination with other drugs, or alone in patients who cannot tolerate side effects of statins.
Inclisiran employs the cutting-edge approach of RNA interference to block messages which would otherwise instruct the body to produce a protein that is known as PCSK9. Reducing PCSK9 boosts the liver’s ability to remove cholesterol from the blood.
The medication was shown in trials to slash LDL cholesterol by 50 percent compared to statins alone. Together, the two medications can result in up to an 80 percent reduction compared to not giving any treatment.
Last year the NHS announced that tens of thousands of patients would be given the jab during a clinical trial. Now many more are set to benefit.
The drug was today approved by officials at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) following an agreement between the NHS and Swiss drug manufacturers Novartis over a confidential discount price.
At list charge, inclisiran costs £1,987 per dose. Statins cost a few pence per day.
Sajid Javid welcomed the cholesterol-busting jab
It will be administered at GP surgeries with an initial dose followed by a second jab three months later. After that, the benefits can be maintained with a dose once every six months.
After the initial three-year period, the drug might be prescribed to almost half a million patients.
Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive, 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.”
Further studies are planned to determine by how much the drug reduces risk of further heart problems, and whether patients without a history of heart disease but who are at risk due to factors such as smoking and diabetes might also benefit from its use.
The drug could be prescribed to half a million patients
Prof Sir Nilesh Samani, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Inclisiran is particularly attractive because it only needs to be given twice a year by a simple injection under the skin.
“More research is needed to confirm the full extent of its benefits, but I anticipate that in the future it will also be approved to lower cholesterol for a much wider group of people to prevent them from having a heart attack or stroke in the first place.”
Dr Richard Francis, head of research at the Stroke Association, said: “For many stroke survivors, having a second stroke is their biggest fear so the rollout of inclisiran offers hope for many people.
“We’re delighted to see this announcement contribute to one of the headline aims of the NHS Long Term Plan – to reduce the number of strokes, heart attacks and cases of dementia by 150,000 over this decade.” He added: “Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability in the UK and the fourth biggest killer.”
Meindert Boysen, the deputy chief executive of Nice, said: “Inclisiran represents a potential game-changer in preventing thousands of people from dying prematurely.
“We’re therefore pleased to be able to recommend it as a cost-effective option on the NHS supported by the ground-breaking deal between NHS England and NHS improvement and Novartis.”