The 1.40 heart pill lifesaver: 10,000 patients a year could be saved by newly-licensed drug
Ivabradine slows the heart rate and improves its pumping ability It could cut NHS costs by slashing hospital admissions by a quarterDuring trials the drug cut deaths from heart failure by 39 per cent
Around one in five of 900,000 Britons with heart failure – almost 200,000 patients – could benefit from the treatment
A pill costing only 1.40 a day could save the lives of thousands of heart failure patients every year.
The drug ivabradine, which slows the heart rate and improves its pumping ability, cut deaths by up to 39 per cent in trials.
Professor Martin Cowie, consultant cardiologist and specialist in heart failure at the Royal Brompton Hospital, said that at a conservative estimate it could save between 5,000 and 10,000 lives a year.
It could also slash National Health Service costs by cutting hospital admissions by more than a quarter.
also known as Procoralan, is licensed in the UK for treating angina and
has been available on the NHS for around five years with a good safety
But today it is being licensed by European safety regulators for treating heart failure.
NHS drug-rationing body, the National Institute for Health and Clinical
Excellence, has yet to decide whether it is affordable for treating
heart failure, but around 20,000 patients currently take it for angina.
Prof Cowie, who was involved in a trial of 6,500 patients, insisted it would save the NHS money.
He said: ‘I hope this gets approved because it’s very good value for money in reducing the number of hospitalisations alone.’
Made by Servier, the drug is relatively cheap, costing the NHS about 500 a year per patient.
Around one in five of 900,000 Britons with heart failure – almost 200,000 patients – could benefit from the treatment.
Trial findings showed a 39 per cent reduction in death from heart failure, a 17 per cent drop in the risk of dying from any cause and a 26 per cent cut in the need for hospital stays among patients using the drug.
Professor Martin Cowie, left, has insisted the drug will save the NHS money. The drug ivabradine slows the heart rate and improves its pumping ability
Prof Cowie said today’s European
licensing decision was ‘great news for both doctors and patients, and
is a significant step forward in the management of heart failure’.
added ivabradine would make a dramatic difference to many who could not
take beta blockers, the standard drugs used to reduce heart rate.
He said even some on the maximum beta blocker dose still had a heart rate that was too fast – more than 75 beats a minute.
Ivabradine lowers the rate to around 60 beats a minute without reducing blood pressure, which means the damaged heart pumps more efficiently at a slower rate.
Prof Cowie said: ‘Heart failure is a very common problem. We have trial results showing ivabradine not only improves symptoms and prevents disease progression, but also helps patients return to normal daily activities and increases their enjoyment of life.
'One in five patients could benefit – the key to whether current treatment is working is whether their heart beat is still too high. This is easy to check – a doctor just has to take their pulse, or the patient can do it.’
Around 100,000 people a year are
thought to die from heart failure, which occurs when damage to the organ
leaves it too weak to pump blood efficiently around the body.
Professor Martin Cowie, consultant cardiologist and specialist in heart failure at the Royal Brompton Hospital, said that ivabradine could save between 5,000 and 10,000 lives a year
68,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Symptoms include fatigue,
breathlessness, increased heart rate and swollen ankles.
heart failure soaks up one to two per cent of the total NHS budget,
with direct medical costs alone amounting to 625million a year.
Scientists have also been developing a once-a-day pill that could halve the risk of heart disease and strokes for millions.
Red Heart ‘polypill’ combines low-dose aspirin, a statin called
simvastatin to reduce cholesterol and two blood pressure-lowering
medicines, lisinopril and hydrochlorothiazide.
pill, which has been put through trials by the George Institute for
Global Health in Sydney, Australia, will cost 4 a month per patient,
but it is unlikely to be available in Britain for several years.