Heart Health

New Heart Tx as Good as Gold Standard

LCZ696, a drug with two antihypertensives to lower blood pressure, won a head to head comparison with ACE inhibitors, the gold standard treatment. The trial, which was conducted in Athens and called the PARADIGM-HF, was stopped abruptly in May 2014 because of a benefit to patients that was overwhelmingly statistically significant.

A release from the European Society of Cardiology quotes co-principal investigator Professor John McMurray as saying, "There are very few breakthroughs in heart failure and so the fact that this new therapy reduced on the primary composite endpoint and on cardiovascular mortality alone, as announced by Novartis in March is remarkable and hopefully very promising for patients."

The release notes that the study was the largest one ever of a heart failure treatment. The latest update on the trial, describing the design and baseline characteristics of patients, was presented on May 16th at the Heart Failure Congress 2014 by Professor Milton Packer, co-principal investigator. The Congress is the main annual meeting of the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology.

PARADIGM-HF tested the hypothesis that LCZ696 200 mg bid was superior to enalapril 10 mg bid in reducing mortality and morbidity in patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction (HF-REF).1 Patients were randomized in a 1:1 ratio to double-blind treatment with one of the two drugs.

ACE inhibitors are the gold standard treatment in heart failure and act by blocking the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS). Enalapril was chosen because it was the ACE inhibitor shown to reduce mortality and hospitalisation of HF-REF patients in the SOLVD-T trial. LCZ696, which is an angiotensin receptor blocker-neprilysin inhibitor (ARNI), simultaneously blocks RAAS and augments endogenous natriuretic peptides (and other endogenous vasoactive substances) by blocking the enzyme that degrades them, called neprilysin or neutral endopeptidase.

Professor McMurray said: "The novel aspect about LCZ696 is that it also enhances the body's natural defenses against heart failure. For example, natriuretic peptides are produced by the failing heart in increased amounts to protect the body against sodium and water overload."

The primary objective of the trial was to evaluate the effect of LCZ696 compared with enalapril, in addition to standard heart failure treatment, in delaying time to either cardiovascular death or heart failure hospitalization (the primary composite endpoint). The trial was deliberately designed so that it was large enough to detect whether LZC696 also had an effect on cardiovascular death alone. Between December 2009 and January 2013, 8 442 patients were randomised at 985 sites in 47 countries.