Novartis launches new heart failure drug in Kenya

Sacubitril and Valsartan is a combination
Sacubitril and Valsartan is a combination medicine used in certain people with chronic heart failure. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Swiss based global healthcare company, Novartis, has launched into the Kenyan market an oral medication designed to reduce the strain on a failing heart.

The Sacubitril and Valsartan drug has been approved and registered by the drugs regulatory authority in Kenya, the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB).

Novartis says it has been granted marketing authorisation for Sacubitril and Valsartan for the treatment of adults with symptomatic chronic heart failure with reduced ejection fraction.

This is a condition where the heart muscle does not contract effectively and less oxygen-rich blood is pumped out to the body.

Sacubitril and Valsartan is a combination medicine used in certain people with chronic heart failure.

The drug also lowers the risk of hospitalisation for such patients when symptoms intensify.

The president of the Kenya Cardiac Society Dr Bernard Gitura welcomed the introduction of the drugs saying that since the trials were announced nearly two years ago it has showed a 20 per cent reduction in the risk of death from cardiovascular causes or hospitalisation for worsening heart failure.

Cardiovascular diseases are a leading cause of non-communicable ailment deaths in Kenya followed by infectious diseases and cancer.

Hypertension, strokes, heart failures and clots are some of the well-known cardiovascular diseases that are affecting Kenyans.

Dr Anders Barasa, a heart specialist at the Aga Khan University Hospital Nairobi, said that despite the growing treatment options for heart failure in recent years, management of this condition remains daunting for health care practitioners.

“It is rare that we have a new molecule with a new mechanism,” he said, “especially one that makes our patients feel better, have fewer hospitalisations and live long.

Sacubitril is a blood pressure medicine. It works by increasing the levels of certain proteins in the body that can widen blood vessels. This helps lower blood pressure by reducing sodium levels.

Valsartan is an angiotensin two receptor blocker and is sometimes called an ARB, it stops bloods vessels from narrowing, which lowers blood pressure and improves blood flow.