New drug 'can help heart failure patients live longer and improve their lives'

BARCELONA - A new drug is expected to come on the market soon which experts say can help heart failure patients live longer, improve their quality of life and cut their need for frequent hospitalisation.

LCZ696, produced by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis, is being hailed as the first major improvement to the treatment of heart failure in 25 years.

Dr Milton Packer from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre led a five-year clinical trial involving more than 8,000 patients in 47 countries - including Singapore. He said there were no groups that did not benefit from it.

The trial found the pills give patients more than double the chance of survival compared to current treatment. They also improved their quality of life and reduced their need for hospitalisation by 21 per cent.

The results were released at the European Society of Cardiology congress.

Dr Packer strongly advocated that it be given to all heart failure patients, suggesting that it would be unethical to deny heart failure patients the drug.

Dr David Sim of the National Heart Centre, who headed the Singapore arm of the trial, called the drug a "breakthrough in the treatment of heart failure".

Heart failure patients account for about 6,000 hospitalisations a year in Singapore.

The five-day congress has attracted 29,000 delegates from around the world, including many cardiologists from Singapore.

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