Big pharma company Novartis scored a big win in cardiovascular disease by securing Food and Drug Administration approval on Entresto, a drug developed to treat heart failure. It’s the first new heart failure drug approved in decades, and because heart failure affects so many – 5 million Americans, according to some estimates –Entresto is widely expected to soon become a blockbuster drug, according to FierceBiotech.
The current standard of care for heart failure is a class of drugs called ACE inhibitors. Entresto is the first new drug to show significant benefit improving mortality when compared against ACE inhibitors. Adoption of the new Novartis drug may come slowly at first because generic ACE inhibitors are already well established, FierceBiotech notes, citing commentary from Bernstein financial analyst Tim Anderson. But Anderson believes Novartis has the advantage in the long run because no other big pharma companies have heart failure drugs in their drug pipelines.
The FDA did give Entresto priority review and fast track designation, so the agency’s approval of the Novartis drug does not come as too much of a surprise. But neither the approval, nor its projected blockbuster status, stands out as the most notable development with Entresto. What’s unusual about the drug is the new pricing model Novartis plans for the heart failure treatment. Reuters explains that Novartis is exploring a model in which health care providers would receive Entresto at a discount, but then pay more if the drug successfully reduce the need for hospital visits, which can be expensive. Novartis is exploring this new drug pricing model as the health care industry moves toward making providers accountable for treatment outcomes, and their costs. A new pricing model could also give Novartis a way to be competitive against older heart failure treatments, which are less effective but significantly cheaper, Reuters says.
The proposed Novartis pricing model is being met with some skepticism, though not outright dismissal, from the health insurance industry. Express Scripts Holding Co. told BloombergBusiness that it wasn’t sure that new pricing plan addresses patient compliance with medication. CVS Health Corp. said it still needs to evaluate the proposal. Meanwhile, Novartis acknowledged to Bloomberg that it can’t force health insurers and providers to adopt this new pricing model. But the pharma wants to at least give then the option to try.
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