Patients with chronic heart failure, a disabling, deadly disease that worsens as the heart gradually pumps less
efficiently, are getting a much-needed new option with U.S. approval Wednesday of a novel drug from Amgen Inc.
Corlanor is the first medication in a dozen years for heart failure, which is becoming more common with obesity – and more people surviving heart attacks due to better treatments.
Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration is reviewing another heart failure pill, from Novartis AG, and could approve it this summer.
More than 5 million Americans and more than 25 million people worldwide have heart failure, which kills up to half of patients within five years, despite numerous generic pills and other treatments available. It costs the global economy an estimated $108 billion annually, mostly for repeated hospitalizations, so preventing those is a key cost-control target.
For most patients, it’s a chronic condition, caused by high blood pressure or other factors damaging heart muscle. That leaves many patients with “low-ejection fraction,” meaning the heart’s main pumping chamber can’t push out anywhere near the 50 percent or more of blood a healthy heart ejects.
Symptoms include breathlessness, fatigue and fluid retention. That keeps many patients homebound and causes repeated emergency department visits, often in the middle of the night, due to infections or just straying from a low-salt diet.
“It’s not uncommon for these people to be hospitalized two to 12 times a yearR