Swiss pharmaceuticals group Novartis is planning to launch a new drug that has the potential to cut cardiovascular death and admissions to hospital by 20%, the company said in a statement, following the release of a study showing the drug's effectiveness.
Shares in Novartis rose on the news as markets opened on Monday on hopes that the experimental treatment might result in a multi-billion dollar seller.
"By demonstrating a very significant reduction in cardiovascular deaths while improving quality of life, Novartis' new heart failure medicine, LCZ696, represents one of the most important cardiology advances of the last decade," Novartis pharmaceuticals division head David Epstein said.
"We want to thank leading cardiologists from around the world for their collaboration with us and their determination in advancing this important new life saving therapy for heart failure patients," he added.
The new medicine could replace many of the current drugs used to treat heart failure for a quarter of a century.
"Given the survival advantage of LCZ696 over currently available drugs, once this drug becomes available, it would be difficult to understand why physicians would continue to use traditional (drugs) … for the treatment of heart failure," Milton Packer of the University of Texas, who was the joint-principal of the study, told news agency Reuters.
Because there has been limited progress in the treatment of chronic heart failure, which occurs when the heart fails to pump enough blood around the body, there is excitement about the new medicine among both doctors and investors, Reuters reported.
The drug could be available by the third quarter of next year, according to Epstein, but he declined to comment on the cost of the drug.
Analysts contacted by Reuters expect it could be priced at around $7 per day in the U.S. and about $4 in Europe, adding that other drug companies are known to be working on competing products.