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Inclisiran: The ‘game-changer’ cholesterol drug to be offered on NHS

The drug has been approved after a ‘ground-breaking’ deal made the drug cost-effective enough to be used by NHS England

Ella Glover
Wednesday 01 September 2021 13:03 BST
Inclisiran is a new type of cholesterol drug made by Novartis, a Swiss global pharmaceutical company
Inclisiran is a new type of cholesterol drug made by Novartis, a Swiss global pharmaceutical company (REUTERS)

The NHS has announced the rollout of a “game-changing” new cholesterol-lowering drug.

Inclisiran has been called “life-changing” by health secretary Sajid Javid and has been predicted by NHS England to prevent 55,000 heart attacks and strokes and save 30,000 lives in the next decade.

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said 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 for taxpayers”.

“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,” she added.

What is Inclisiran?

Inclisiran is a new type of cholesterol drug made by Novartis, a Swiss global pharmaceutical company. It is the first of a new type of cholesterol-lowering treatment that uses RNA interference to help the liver remove harmful cholesterol from the blood. It is effective in lowering the risk of a “cardiovascular event” - such as a stroke or heart attack - in people who have already suffered one.

It can be used on its own or alongside statins or other cholesterol-lowering drugs, but is considered cost-effective in people who have previously had a cardiovascular event and whose cholesterol levels remain high after they have had the maximum tolerated lipid‑lowering therapy, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) who approved the drug, said.

Who will it help?

At the moment, the treatment will be given to people with primary hypercholesterolaemia (high cholesterol) and people who have mixed dyslipidaemia (abnormally high levels of fats in their blood), who have already suffered a heart attack or stroke.

Clinical trial evidence shows that Inclisiran may help lower cholesterol levels when other treatments, such as statins and dietary changes, have not reduced them enough.

NHS England estimates around 300,000 people will receive Inclisiran over the next three years, helping to prevent 55,000 heart attacks and strokes, and potentially saving 30,000 lives in the next decade.

However, the treatment has not yet been proven to be cost-effective for people who have never had a cardiovascular event, so it is only being recommended by Nice to be used in this population in research trials.

How will it be administered?

The drug will be administered via an injection.

The initial dose will be followed by a second dose three months later and then twice a year thereafter.

Inclisiran, which can be used either alongside statins or on its own, will be administered in GP surgeries across England.

Why is it being offered now?

The drug has become an option after the struck a “population health agreement” deal with Novartis, lowering the price.

While the discount has not been disclosed, the drug usually costs £1,987.36 for a 284mg dose pack, according to The Guardian.

The company’s decision to lower the price is what spurred Nice on in approving the treatment. The cost-effectiveness of the treatment, despite no long term evidence on its effect on cardiovascular outcome, will make the use of Inclisiran “fair for taxpayers”.

The deputy chief executive, Meindert Boysen, said: “Inclisiran represents a potential game-changer in preventing thousands of people from dying prematurely from heart attacks and strokes.

“We’re therefore pleased to be able to recommend it as a cost-effective option on the NHS support by the ground-breaking deal between NHS England and NHS Improvement and Novartis – a deal that could see as many as 300,000 people with high cholesterol or mixed dyslipidaemia who have already had a previous cardiovascular event receive the drug over the next three years.”

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