News: Novel drug vs hypertension introduced -
08 Mar 2008
For over a decade, no new kind of therapy has been developed to treat high blood pressure (hypertension), a silent killer that afflicts about seven million Filipinos and nearly a billion people worldwide.
That is, until Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis AG developed a breakthrough drug that controls hypertension by blocking an enzyme that can trigger the condition.
Aliskiren is the first and only high blood pressure medication that inhibits renin, a kidney enzyme associated with the regulation of blood pressure.
Unlike other available high blood pressure medications that act at later stages of the renin system, a key blood pressure regulation process, Aliskiren, acts at the beginning of this process.
“It is well established that the renin system plays an important role in blood pressure control and is the target of several antihypertensive agents,” said Dr. Matthew Ryan Weir, professor and director of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
“However, targeting the renin system at its point of activation — renin — has long been regarded as offering the potential for a more comprehensive approach to hypertension and cardiovascular disease treatment,” Weir said.
Weir was the keynote speaker during the Asia-Pacific launch of Aliskiren in a pre-convention satellite symposium during the 13th joint annual convention of the Philippine Society of Hypertension and Philippine Lipid and Atherosclerosis Society.
More than 250 top cardiologists and other specialists attended the launch symposium at the Crowne Plaza Galleria Hotel last Feb. 12.
“The launch of Aliskiren in the Philippines manifests Novartis’ strong commitment to find innovative ways to help doctors care and cure patients with high blood pressure worldwide,” said Peter Goldschmidt, president and CEO of Novartis Healthcare Philippines, Inc.
In most parts of the world, including the Philippines, the rate of uncontrolled hypertension is 85 percent or higher, highlighting the need for more effective and well tolerated antihypertensive drugs. Aliskiren, a direct renin inhibitor (DRI), represents a novel and exciting approach to superior blood pressure control, excellent tolerability, and potential target organ protection either as monotherapy or in combination with other anti-hypertensive medications. In clinical trials involving more than 6,000 people with hypertension, Aliskiren has been shown to consistently lower blood pressure for 24 hours and beyond.
“The efficacy of Aliskiren to lower blood pressure for 24 hours and beyond is important because many high blood pressure medications are unable to sustain their blood pressure-lowering effect throughout the day, especially during the early morning hours when blood pressure surges occur,” said Dr. Francis Domingo, Novartis Philippines’ medical director.
In his lecture, Weir cited the results of a randomized clinical trial on Aliskiren and valsartan combination therapy, which showed that despite discontinuation of the drug, blood pressure remained low.
“The blood pressure remained down even after the drug had been discontinued, in some cases, for two to four weeks,” he said. Aliskiren was the gold prize winner of the Wall Street Journal’s seventh annual Technology Innovation Awards held last September.
Editors of the respected business newspaper received more than 800 applications for the award, which was eventually whittled down to 150 entries. A panel of judges from business, research and academic organizations chose winners in 12 categories, along with overall Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners.
To win the award, a technology had to be a breakthrough from traditional methods, not just an incremental improvement. Throughout the clinical trial program, Aliskiren was well tolerated by patients. When used with other anti-hypertension medications such as ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), calcium channel blockers or diuretics, it delivered additional blood pressure reductions, helping people already on therapy to reach their blood pressure goals.
Aliskiren was also well tolerated when used with the most common diabetic and cardiovascular medications.An extensive clinical program (ASPIRE HIGHER) is currently evaluating the long-term potential of Aliskiren and direct renin inhibition in patients with cardiovascular or kidney disease.Aliskiren is a prescription medicine and should only be taken upon a doctor’s advice. Aliskiren has also been approved in more than 40 countries and used in more than 130,000 patients worldwide.