Novartis has been boosted by data from a new study which shows that its new combination antihypertensive Exforge lowers blood pressure in twice as many patients than those on amlodipine alone.

Exforge, which combines Novartis’ own angiotensin II receptor blocker Diovan (valsartan) with Pfizer’s off-patent calcium channel blocker Norvasc (amlodipine), also significantly reduced blood pressure across difficult-to-treat groups such as the elderly, obese and people with diabetes.

The study, the findings of which were published in the Journal of the American Society of Hypertension, involved 646 patients with stage 2 hypertension, with systolic blood pressure ranging from 160 millimeters of mercury to 200 mmHg, who were randomly assigned either Exforge or amlodipine.

51.8% of patients who took Exforge achieved a hypertension reading of below 140 mmHg at week four, compared with 27.7% of patients who received amlodipine alone. On average, patients administered Exforge attained a systolic blood pressure reduction of 30.1 mmHg from baseline, compared with a decline of 23.5 mmHg in the other arm.

Lead investigator of the trial, Maurizio Destro, said that the blood pressure drops achieved with Exforge “are important since systolic blood pressure continues to increase with age. Therefore as population demographics shift towards older age, the cardiovascular disease burden could almost be entirely attributable to systolic blood pressure".

Furthermore, he added that 65% of people with the disease “do not achieve their blood pressure goal, and most require two or more medicines”. Patients are therefore “more likely to keep taking a single pill a day rather than multiple medications, so Exforge is clearly an important and effective therapy option."

Second-quarter sales of Exforge, which was approved in the USA in June last year, reached $101 million.