Inclisitan is the first of a new type of ground-breaking drugs that will boost the liver’s ability to remove cholesterol from the blood and prevent heart attack and stroke deaths
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A “game changing” injection is being rolled out on the NHS to prevent 30,000 deaths from heart attacks and stroke.
Around 300,000 at-risk people with high cholesterol who have previously suffered such a cardiovascular event in England will be offered the twice-yearly jab costing £2,000 per dose.
Inclisiran is the first of a new type of “ground breaking” drug that boosts the liver’s ability to remove harmful cholesterol from the blood.
The RNA interference (RNAi) technology will first be targeted at 300,000 people deemed most at risk of dying from another heart attack or stroke.
NHS England estimates inclisiran could prevent 55,000 heart attacks and strokes, saving 30,000 lives within the next decade.
However if ongoing trials are successful the National Institute for Care and Excellence (NICE) could extend approval to millions more people with high cholesterol who have not yet suffered a cardiovascular event.
Meindert Boysen, NICE deputy chief executive, said: “Inclisiran represents a potential game-changer in preventing thousands of people from dying prematurely from heart attacks and strokes.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “This ground-breaking new drug further demonstrates the UK’s excellent track record for identifying the world’s most innovative treatments and ensuring NHS patients are able to access them at the earliest opportunity.
“Thanks to this collaboration, this life-saving new treatment will make a difference to hundreds of thousands of people.
“This is a huge step forward in tackling the scourge of heart disease, which tragically kills thousands every year.”
More than two in five Brits have high cholesterol which puts them at significant risk of developing heart disease.
Cardiovascular diseases are responsible for a quarter of all UK deaths, claiming 175 lives a day.
The collective bargaining clout of the NHS has meant it negotiated a confidential discount with manufacturer Novartis on inclisiran’s £2,000 a dose list price.
The injection is administered by nurses at GP surgeries in the belly, upper arm or thigh. Doses will be given three times in the first year and then twice yearly thereafter.
Prof Kausik Ray, consultant cardiologist at the Imperial College NHS Trust, said: “As a clinician I see many patients where their cholesterol levels are insufficiently controlled for their level of risk, often despite optimal use of available therapies, putting them at increased risk of a heart attack or stroke.
“Having faster and broader access to a medicine like inclisiran, which offers the combination of a convenient twice-a-year maintenance dosing schedule, as well as the ability to be used in primary care – where most patients are cared for – and provide sustained reductions in cholesterol is a hugely positive milestone in patient care.”
Raised levels of cholesterol can over time build up as fatty deposits in artery walls, making them narrower.
These ‘plaques’ start to restrict blood flow to the heart muscle, brain, arms, legs and other vital organs.
There are 3.5 million Brits for whom this has developed in to this atherosclerotic form of cardiovascular disease
Amanda Pritchard, NHS England chief executive, said: “The NHS is committed to using cutting-edge treatments to save and improve patients’ lives.
“Heart disease is still one of the major killer conditions so it is fantastic that we now have such an effective and convenient treatment for those living with dangerously high cholesterol levels.
“This world-leading deal for the rollout of inclisiran will save lives and enable hundreds of thousands of people to benefit from this revolutionary treatment, while also being fair to taxpayers.”
Inclisiran can be used alongside statins which are currently taken by around eight million Brits for high cholesterol.
Prof Sir Nilesh Samani, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation said: “I anticipate that in the future it will also be approved to lower cholesterol for a much wider group of people to prevent them from having a heart attack or stroke in the first place.”