More than two in five people in England have high cholesterol which puts them at significant risk of developing heart disease, and around 6.5 million adults in England are currently taking lipid-lowering drugs such as statins.
The National Health Service announces a new drug to lower cholesterol will be made available to hundreds of thousands of patients.
The treatment is called Inclisiran, and is delivered as an injection twice a year and can be used alongside statins, adding to the options available to patients to help control their cholesterol levels.
This will enable 300,000 patients with high cholesterol and a history of cardiovascular disease to benefit from the lifesaving drug over the next three years, a figure that could rise to nearly half a million people beyond that initial period.
It has been estimated that Inclisiran could prevent 55,000 heart attacks and strokes, saving 30,000 lives within the next decade.
This drug has become the object of much anticipation because it employs a technique called “gene slicing”. This emerging therapeutic technique specifically targets the underlying causes of disease, instead of the symptoms one experiences when it takes effect. This works by selecting a specific gene and stopping it from producing the protein responsible for the illness.
Gene silencing technology was typically only used for rare genetic diseases, which makes the forthcoming cholesterol shot the first of its kind to treat people for more common health problems, and on an unprecedented scale.
Gene silencing drugs target a precise kind of ribonucleic acid (RNA) in the human body, known as “messenger” RNA (mRNA).
Every cell in your body has RNAs, where they perform a crucial role in the passage of genetic information. Additionally, mRNA is one of the most important kinds of RNA in the body, since it copies and transports genetic instructions, and produces proteins according to instructions.
“With heart disease being the number one cause of death globally, we’ve worked with the NHS to respond to this urgent need with pioneering solutions that can deliver rapid access to innovative medicines at scale.
Solutions like this can’t be implemented by one entity alone, and we’re proud to collaborate with the NHS on a concerted effort that could potentially revolutionize the way society approaches the treatment of cardiovascular disease,” said Vas Narasimhan, CEO of Novartis, the company that has partnered with NHS for this project.
According to the NHS, preventing thousands of heart attacks and strokes over the next 10 years is a priority for the NHS as set out in its Long Term Plan, which also outlines how the health service will take a new population health approach over this decade.
The NHS is using this commercial drug deal for Inclisiran as an opportunity to find and treat a large population affected by a leading health challenge, helping to secure maximum value from the NHS budget for new medicines.