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Health News

Novartis's Tekturna shows promise in heart failure

VIENNA, Sept 2 (Reuters) - A new type of blood pressure pill from Novartis NOVN.VX also shows promise as a treatment for heart failure, scientists said on Sunday.

Tekturna, known generically as aliskiren, recently went on sale in the United States and was approved last month in Europe, where is it goes under the name Rasilez.

It is the first of a new type of drug known as a renin inhibitor that experts hope will give extra benefits compared with older medicines.

John McMurray of the University of Glasgow, Scotland, said a 300-patient study of patients with heart failure found Tekturna significantly cut levels of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), a biomarker associated with worsening outcomes for patients.

The effect was seen even though patients were already taking other types of blood pressure medications, suggesting Tekturna can offer additional protection to the heart.

“We would hope that a reduction of BNP would translate into a reduction of morbidity and mortality, but that needs to be proved in a large randomised trial, which is the next step,” McMurray told reporters at the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology.

There was no significant excess of either hypotension -- excessively low blood pressure -- or kidney dysfunction, he added.

Heart failure affects more than 14 million people in Europe alone and is a major killer worldwide, making it a major focus of medical research.

The condition occurs when the heart is unable to maintain adequate circulation of blood in the body’s tissues, resulting in shortness of breath, excessive tiredness and fluid build-up.

Tekturna, which was co-developed by Swiss biotech company Speedel SPPN.S, is a key new product for Novartis, which is seeking ways to shore up its hypertension medicine sales.

This business is currently supported by Diovan, Novartis’s top-seller with 2006 sales of $4.2 billion, which will lose patent protection in 2012.

Diovan reduces blood pressure by targetting angiotensin receptors, while Tekturna blocks renin, a kidney enzyme that triggers a process in hypertension.

((Reporting by Ben Hirschler; editing by Greg Mahlich; e-mail: ben.hirschler@reuters.com; Reuters Messaging: ben.hirschler.reuters.com@reuters.net; tel +44 7771 575 829)) Keywords: CARDIOLOGY NOVARTIS/

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