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Effectiveness prompts Novartis to end drug study

March 31, 2014

Novartis said it’s cutting off late-stage research into a potential chronic heart failure treatment because the drug has proven so effective, sending shares to an all-time high when markets opened Monday.

Patients taking its twice-daily pill labeled LCZ696 lived longer without being hospitalized for heart failure than those who received a standard of care, Novartis said. The drugmaker will begin talking with regulators about market approval, but it offered no details on the time frame Monday as far as a regulatory submission.

The study of more than 8,400 patients aimed to measure the time until patients either died or were hospitalized due to heart failure. It compared patients taking LCZ696 with another group that received the standard of care. Previous analyses showed an acceptable safety profile for the drug, Novartis said.

Chronic heart failure is a condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood throughout the body. Symptoms include breathlessness, fatigue and fluid retention. They can appear slowly and worsen over time. Novartis said more than 20 million people are living with the disease in the United States and Europe.

Shares of Novartis AG that are traded in the U.S. climbed more than 4 percent to $85.13 shortly after markets opened.

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