Novartis’ number one cardiovascular drug, Diovan (valsartan), can cut the risk of cardiovascular events following a heart attack – according to new data presented at the European Society of Cardiology meeting this week.

The company says the need for new treatments following a heart attack remains significant – some 3 million people in Europe and 1.2 million in the USA suffer a heart myocardial infarction every year, and one in three of these will die within the year following the attack.

Diovan is already the number one prescribed drug of the angiotensin 2 receptor blocker class – and reeled in sales of almost $2 billion dollars for the Swiss giant during the first half of this year [[14/07/05b]]. The US Food and Drug Administration in August gave the first ever thumbs up to Diovan for used in reducing cardiovascular death amongst high-risk heart attack survivors [[04/08/05d]], which followed a similar approval in Europe in May [[09/05/05a]].

The approvals were based on data from the so-called VALIANT study, which found Diovan improved survival and reduced cardiovascular events in high-risk heart attack patients [[11/11/03d]]. And this latest analysis, presented at the ESC, confirmed that Diovan is as effective as the ACE inhibitor captopril in reducing atherosclerotic events, such as heart attack. “Until now, the nature of ARB trials have made it difficult to determine whether this class of drugs is effective in preventing atherosclerotic events. We now have further evidence that Diovan is as effective as ACE inhibitors in preventing atherosclerotic events,” concluded principal VALIANT investigator John McMurray.

In order to explore the effect of Diovan and CV event reduction, Novartis is conducting NAVIGATOR, the largest outcomes trial ever conducted on the delay or prevention of CV events and type 2 diabetes in patients with impaired glucose tolerance.