SATURDAY, Aug. 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- In a head-to-head
comparison, an experimental drug was more effective than standard
treatment at preventing deaths and hospitalizations in heart
According to the study authors, the trial was stopped early
because of the marked benefit of the new drug, dubbed LCZ696.
In the trial, 26.5 percent of those getting the standard
medication, enalapril (Vasotec), either died or were hospitalized
due to heart failure, compared with 21.8 percent of those on the
new drug. Enalapril belongs to a class of blood pressure-lowering
medications known as ACE inhibitors.
"LCZ696 could become the new gold standard, replacing ACE inhibitors," said lead researcher Dr. John McMurray, a professor of cardiology at the British Heart Foundation Cardiovascular Research Center at the University of Glasgow, in Scotland.
LCZ696 combines two blood pressure drugs -- an angiotensin II
receptor blocker (ARB) and the neprilysin inhibitor known as
"We found that LCZ696 was superior to the gold-standard ACE inhibitor for heart failure -- an ACE inhibitor being the absolute cornerstone of treatment for this problem," he said.
Not only did LCZ696 beat enalapril, but it did that even when
added to other treatments, McMurray noted.
"The new treatment was very well tolerated, with no significant safety concerns," he added.
The report was published online Aug. 30 in the
New England Journal of Medicine, to coincide with a
presentation at the European Society of Cardiology annual meeting
in Barcelona. The trial was funded by Novartis, the maker of
Dr. Mariell Jessup, a professor of medicine at the University of
Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine, said, "There is new
hope for heart failure."
She added, "We have not had a new drug for heart failure for
many years. LCZ696 is a unique compound that may represent a new
Doctors have relied on ACE inhibitors for over two decades, she
said. According to Jessup, who wrote an accompanying editorial,
"Newer drugs that work via alternate pathways may [show] benefit
beyond the medical therapy that is used today."
For the study, over 8,400 patients with heart failure were
randomly chosen to receive LCZ696 or enalapril.
Over an average of 27 months of follow-up, LCZ696 reduced the
risk of hospitalization for heart failure by 21 percent, compared
to enalapril, the findings showed.
Moreover, among the 1,251 people who died from heart disease
during the trial, 558 were taking LCZ696 (13.3 percent) and 693
were taking enalapril (16.5 percent), the researchers noted.
Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University
of California, Los Angeles, commented, "The results of this study
are terrific news for patients with heart failure, and represent
If approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, this new
medication should help doctors improve outcomes for the millions of
men and women with chronic heart failure worldwide, he said.
American Heart Associationfor more on heart
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