In a head-to-head comparison, an experimental drug was more effective than standard treatment at preventing deaths and hospitalizations in heart failure patients.
According to the study authors, the trial was stopped early because of the marked benefit of the new drug, dubbed LCZ696. [LCZ696 is an investigational combination drug consisting of two antihypertensives (blood pressure lowering drugs), valsartan (left below) and AHU-377 (right below), in a 1:1 mixture. It is being developed by Novartis. The combination is often described as a dual-acting angiotensin receptor-neprilysin inhibitor (ARNi)]
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 sacubitril.
"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.