A new anti-cholesterol drug, Inclisiran, will now be available to NHS patients with high cholesterol and a history of cardiovascular disease, to reduce the chances of them having another cardiovascular event.
The revolutionary new treatment can be used on its own or alongside statins, and will be administered as an injection in GP surgeries across England. After an initial dose, the drug will be given again after three months and then twice a year.
It works by using RNA interference (RNAi) to boost the liver’s ability to remove harmful cholesterol from the blood, lowering the level of a type of fatty substance called LDL-C, which when found in high levels, makes people more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke.
Heart disease annually accounts for around a quarter of deaths in England
Since heart disease is the world’s biggest killer and annually accounts for around a quarter of deaths in England, the new treatment is estimated to prevent around 55,000 heart attacks and strokes, saving 30,000 lives within the next decade.
Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive of the NHS, said that the health service 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,” she said.
The life-saving treatment will make a difference to "hundreds of thousands of people"
The roll-out of the injections comes after the NHS and the manufacturer, Novartis, agreed the first NHS ‘population health agreement’, following the success of clinical trials.
Initially, the treatment will be available to 300,000 patients over the next three years, a figure the NHS say could rise to nearly half a million beyond that initial period.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Thanks to this collaboration, this life-saving new treatment will make a difference to hundreds of thousands of people across England, expected to save 30,000 lives and prevent 55,000 heart attacks and strokes. This is a huge step forward in tackling the scourge of heart disease, which tragically kills thousands every year.
“I want to thank the NHS, Novartis and NICE for this work to help treat one of the world’s deadliest diseases”.