Novartis anti-inflammatory drug could prevent heart attacks

By Jonathan Dyble
Swiss drug company Novartis has taken the innovative approach of developing an anti-inflammatory heart drug that has been proven to be effective in curb...

Swiss drug company Novartis has taken the innovative approach of developing an anti-inflammatory heart drug that has been proven to be effective in curbing heart attacks and similar health problems.

Current heart-related medicines have often focused on cholesterol and blood pressure levels. However, Novartis may have made a breakthrough with its new drug named Canakinumab.

A study that was conducted using the drug included 10,000 high risk patients across 39 countries, with both a history of heart attacks and a high level of interleukin-1β.

The results showed that of the 1,400-reported heart-related health incidents that occurred throughout the period of study, patients receiving the highest Canakinumab dosage recorded 14% fewer than the placebo group.

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With cholesterol having had some but not complete success in reducing heart attacks in patients, Novartis’s new drug could go some way in solving the missing piece of the puzzle.

"These data are a significant milestone because they show that selectively targeting inflammation with ACZ885 (Canakinumab) reduces cardiovascular risk and that ACZ885 may also be an important immuno-oncology therapy targeting IL-1ß for lung cancer," said Global Head of Drug Development and Chief Medical Officer at Novartis, Vas Narasimhan.

"We look forward to submitting the CANTOS data to regulatory authorities for approval in cardiovascular and initiating additional phase III studies in lung cancer."

The drug does carry the potential threat of side effects such as increased risk of infection, with the anti-inflammatory medication naturally reducing the body’s immune response. Another drawback is that it is unlikely to be a 100% cure and will be expensive with treatment, expected to cost in the region of $64,000.

However, it does provide an alternative to those who suffer from heart problems who have failed to find a solution in existing cholesterol-controlling drugs.

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