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Life-saving anti-cholesterol drug recommended on NHS following studies

A groundbreaking drug to combat heart disease could soon be offered on the NHS, following an innovative programme of clinical trials delivered by the NIHR.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is recommending that inclisiran, a treatment to lower cholesterol, should be offered to patients who have already had a stroke or heart attack and are not responding to other cholesterol-lowering treatments.

Results from clinical trials show inclisiran can halve bad cholesterol in just two weeks, with the potential to save up to 30,000 lives over the next decade if made available on the NHS. If inclisiran were to be given to 300,000 patients annually, it could help prevent up to 55,000 heart attacks and strokes.

The drug would be delivered as a twice-yearly injection to eligible patients with prior experience of heart attack or stroke - potentially replacing the need to take statins daily, while saving thousands of lives a year.

The NICE recommendations follow the findings of the ORION programme of clinical studies, an innovative collaboration between the NIHR, NHS England, Oxford University and the pharmaceutical company Novartis. More than 130 people took part in the Thames Valley & South Midlands region.

Dr Piers Clifford, Industry Lead for the NIHR Cardiovascular National Specialty Group and a Consultant Cardiologist at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “The ORION series of research trials have clearly demonstrated that inclisiran is a game-changing drug in the treatment of patients with a high cholesterol. It results in astonishing reductions in blood cholesterol, far exceeding that achieved by high dose statins, with virtually no side effects.

“It is gratifying that NICE is recommending its use and this clearly demonstrates the benefits to patients of well conducted clinical trials.”

The studies are a collaboration between the NIHR, NHS England, Oxford University and the pharmaceutical company Novartis.

Read more on the NIHR website