Life-saving cholesterol jab recommended on NHS
An expensive but “game-changing” anti-cholesterol drug could soon be offered to hundreds of thousands of people in England and Wales on the NHS.
NHS England says inclisiran, given as a twice-a-year injection, could save about 30,000 lives within a decade.
It normally costs nearly £2,000 per dose but Novartis, which makes it, has agreed an undisclosed discount.
It can lower bad fat in the blood when other cheaper drugs, like statins, have not done enough, says draft advice.
The health watchdog NICE is recommending it as an option for people who have already had a stroke or heart attack and are not responding to other cholesterol-lowering treatments.
Experts hope it will help to cut their risk of further life-threatening cardiovascular events.
Although there is no long-term proof of this yet from studies, they believe it is worth recommending based on existing evidence.
It will bring England and Wales in line with guidance for Scotland.
“This world-leading deal for the roll out of inclisiran will save lives and
enable hundreds of thousands of people to benefit from this revolutionary treatment,
while also being fair to taxpayers.”
What is cholesterol?
- Cholesterol is a fatty substance – a lipid – found in some foods and also produced in the liver
- There are different types, but too much “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol can clog the arteries, increasing the risk of heart problems and stroke
- It’s mainly caused by eating fatty food, not exercising enough, being overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol. It can also run in families
- You might need medication to lower your cholesterol if it has not gone down after changing your diet and lifestyle
While statins slow down the production of cholesterol in the liver, inclisiran works in a different way.
It uses gene-silencing to help the liver remove harmful cholesterol.
- Listen: The Silence of the Genes
It turns off, or silences, a gene called PCSK9, which results in the liver absorbing more “bad” LDL cholesterol from the blood and breaking it down.
It can be used on its own or alongside statins.
Meindert Boysen, NICE deputy chief executive and director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, said: “Inclisiran represents a potential game-changer in preventing thousands of people from dying prematurely from heart attacks and strokes.
“We’re therefore pleased to be able to recommend it as a cost effective option on the NHS.”
Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the NHS, said: “Heart disease is still one of the major killer conditions so it is fantastic that we now have such an effective and convenient treatment for those living with dangerously high cholesterol levels.
“This world-leading deal for the roll out of inclisiran will save lives and enable hundreds of thousands of people to benefit from this revolutionary treatment, while also being fair to taxpayers.”