I try to avoid using words like “blockbuster” and “breakthrough” when writing about new drugs and treatments. I’ve been disappointed too many times. But, though they’ve been in short supply lately in cardiovascular medicine, sometimes there really are breakthroughs and blockbusters. In my career writing about cardiovascular medicine I’ve seen the introduction of the ACE inhibitors, statins, stents, ICDs, and clopidogrel, among others. All of these became multibillion-dollar products. Now there’s a new candidate that just might join this group. I’ll tell you why, but I can’t emphasize strongly enough that right now we only have extremely preliminary information. So be warned. And don’t be completely surprised if it does bomb out. We’ve been down this road before.
As I reported previously (here and here), early on Monday Novartis disclosed that the PARADIGM-HF trial testing LCZ696, a novel, first-in-class Angiotensin Receptor Neprilysin Inhibitor (ARNI), had been stopped early. As I later found out, the news was even better than Novartis had said in its press release. I spoke with the co-principal investigator of the trial, Milton Packer, who told me that the trial had been stopped because of a highly statistically significant reduction in cardiovascular mortality in patients taking LCZ696 instead of the current gold standard of treatment, an ACE inhibitor. Marc Pfeffer, a cardiologist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital with long experience in heart failure, told me that he interprets “the stopping of a major clinical outcome trial for effectiveness by an experienced DSMB [Data and Safety Monitoring Board] as indicating that the final results will be both definitive and important.”
The first thing to know is that a reduction in cardiovascular mortality is a really big deal….