FILE PHOTO: Novartis' logo is seen at the cell and gene therapy factory of the Swiss drugmaker in Stein, Switzerland, November 28, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis has announced that it has agreed a deal with the NHS for use of its new cholesterol-lowering drug Leqvio in the UK, after the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) approved the medicine.

The agreement, whose value was not disclosed, will help with wide access to the medicine through NHS for people at risk of heart disease and for whom conventional treatment has not worked.

About 300,000 patients at high risk of a second cardiovascular incident are expected to be treated with the medicine over three years, Novartis said in a statement.

Meindert Boysen, NICE deputy chief executive and director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, said: “Inclisiran represents a potential game-changer in preventing thousands of people from dying prematurely from heart attacks and strokes.

“We’re therefore pleased to be able to recommend it as a cost-effective option on the NHS supported by the ground-breaking deal between NHS England and NHS Improvement and Novartis — a deal that could see as many as 300,000 people with high cholesterol or mixed dyslipidaemia who have already had a previous cardiovascular event receive the drug over the next 3 years.”

Heart disease is a big killer in Britain and the NHS has made fighting cardiovascular disorders one of its long-term priorities.

Leqvio, whose chemical generic name is inclisiran, is a twice-yearly injection that targets “bad cholesterol,” a culprit behind heart attacks and strokes, and has been approved in Europe.

It is an add-on therapy for those patients whose cholesterol levels do not respond adequately to statins.

“Having faster and broader access to a medicine like inclisiran … is a hugely positive milestone in patient care,” said Kausik Ray, a professor of public health at Imperial College London and consultant at the imperial college NHS Trust.

Around 7.6 million Britons have heart and circulatory diseases, which account for about a quarter of all deaths annually in the country, according to the British Heart Foundation.

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