New anti-cholesterol vaccine could save 30,000 lives in a decade if made available by the NHS in England and Wales.
Inclisiran, which will be offered to hundreds of thousands of people, has been described as a “game changer” by health professionals.
The expensive drug usually costs around £ 2,000 a dose, but manufacturer Novartis has “agreed to an undisclosed discount,” the BBC reported to the NHS. As part of the deal, the program should begin “within a month,” the Times said.
The NHS estimates that the drug will be offered to around 300,000 people over the next three years to prevent 55,000 heart attacks and strokes and potentially save 30,000 lives over the next decade.
More than two in five people in England have high cholesterol, which puts them at significant risk of developing heart disease, while heart disease accounts for a quarter of deaths each year in England, says NHS England.
Nurses can give Inclisiran as an injection in primary care practices across England, which means patients can avoid regular hospital visits.
After an initial dose, the drug is given again after three months, and then twice a year.
How does the drug work?
The drug has been dubbed a “game changer” because of its “impressive study results”, Kat Lay told The Times. A global study led by Imperial College London showed that it “could safely lower cholesterol by 50%,” she reported.
And an injection twice a year is probably “less stressful for the patient than thinking about taking the daily pill,” says Lay.
Inclisiran works differently than statins, a far cheaper drug treatment used to lower blood cholesterol. While statins “slow down” the production of cholesterol in the liver, Inclisiran uses a “gene-silencing” effect to help the liver remove harmful cholesterol, according to the BBC.
In fact, it “turns off” – or silences – a gene called PCSK9, causing the liver to take in and break down more of the “bad” cholesterol called LDL cholesterol in the blood.
The drug can be taken alone or with statins.
Who is the drug offered to?
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has made recommendations that the drug should be used in hundreds of thousands of people with high cholesterol or mixed dyslipidemia – abnormally high levels of fat in the blood – who have had a heart attack or stroke.
Under the After all, “public health agreements” between Novartis and the NHS could benefit nearly half a million people from treatment.
“Inclisiran is a potential game changer to prevent thousands of people from prematurely dying of heart attacks and strokes,” said Meindest Boysen, NICE Vice President and Director of the Center for Health Technology Evaluation.
“We are therefore happy to recommend it as an affordable option for the NHS.”
And health experts hope that the drug will be offered to “even more patients with heart problems” in the future, The Guardian reported.
“More research is needed to confirm the full scope of its benefits, but I expect it will also be approved in the future for lowering cholesterol for a much larger group of people in order to prevent heart attack or stroke.” Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, the British Heart Foundation’s medical director, told the newspaper.