A lifesaving new pill has been licensed by European safety regulators for treating heart failure, but has yet to be approved for use on the NHS.
Ivabradine, also known as Procoralan, is already licensed in the UK for treating angina and has been available on the NHS for around five years with a good safety record. Around 20,000 patients currently take it for angina.
The drug lowers heart rate to around 60 beats per minute without reducing blood pressure, which means the damaged heart pumps more effectively at a slower rate.
Now, the £1.40 heart pill has been awarded a European license for the treatment of heart failure, meaning it could soon be available for patients with private medical insurance. However, rationing body NICE has yet to make a decision on using the drug for the NHS.
Heart failure does not mean your heart is about to stop working. The term describes what happens when the heart is struggling to pump enough blood around your body.
Heart failure affects about 900,000 people in the UK, with an average age of 76.
A recent study involving 6,505 people in 37 countries showed that Ivabradine could cut death rates from heart failure by up to 39 per cent- experts say this could prevent between 5,000 and 10,000 deaths a year.
The study also indicated that the drug reduces the need for patients to be treated in hospital for heart failure by 30 per cent, slashing NHS costs. The drug itself is relatively cheap, costing the NHS about £500 a year per patient.
Professor Martin Cowie, a consultant cardiologist and specialist in heart failure at the Royal Brompton Hospital in central London, and the British lead investigator for the study, said: “Heart failure is a very common problem, affecting approximately 1 per cent of the population.
“The decision to approve this new indication for Ivabradine is great news for both doctors and patients, and is a significant step forward in the management of heart failure.”
Private medical insurance gives you the opportunity to be treated with licensed drugs not available on the NHS, like Ivabradine. Compare health insurance online now to make sure you are protected with the best treatment the UK has to offer.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012