New heart failure drug gets first approval

10th July 2015

A new heart failure drug that has been shown to improve survival and reduce hospital admissions for heart failure has won its first approval.

The Food and Drug Administration in America has given the go-ahead for the Novartis drug Entresto (formerly called LCZ696) to be used in patients with a reduced ejection fraction (EF). EF is the percentage of blood pumped out of the heart with each beat and in people with heart failure, this figure can sometimes be severely reduced.

The drug, made up two main ingredients (sacubitril and valsartan) is currently undergoing review by health bodies around the world, including in Canada, Switzerland and the EU.


In America it will be available on prescription for patients whose condition is classified NYHA class II-IV (mild to severe symptoms) and with other heart failure drugs.

“Millions of people diagnosed with reduced ejection fraction heart failure now have a much greater opportunity to live longer and stay out of hospital,” said David Epstein, division head of Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

A recent study with 8,442-patients was stopped early when it was shown Entresto significantly reduced the risk of death when compared with the ACE-inhibitor enalapril.

At the end of the study, patients with reduced ejection fraction who were given Entresto were more likely to be alive and less likely to have been admitted to hospital for heart failure.

Entresto is a first in a class medicine that reduces the strain on a weak heart. A twice-a-day tablet, it acts to enhance the protective neurohormonal systems of the heart while simultaneously suppressing the harmful system.