One of Novartis’ star drugs, the blood pressure lowering agent, Diovan (valsartan), has won a key new label in Europe – to treat heart attack survivors – and becomes the first drug of its class to be made available to this patient population. The approval was based on data from the 15,000-patient VALIANT study, which found Diovan improved survival and reduced cardiovascular events in high-risk heart attack patients [[11/11/03d]].

The market across the European Union is estimated to be in the region of 750,000 – including people who are at risk of experiencing a second heart attack or other serious cardiovascular outcomes. In total, more than 3 million people from European countries suffer a heart attack every year, and one-third will die within the subsequent 12 months.

The news is likely to send Diovan’s sales into the stratosphere. Already the most widely-prescribed blood pressure drug in the angiotensin receptor blocker class, it reeled in more than $3 billion dollars for the Swiss giant last year [[21/01/05a]]. Said Joerg Reinhardt, Head of Development, Novartis Pharma AG: “Already trusted as a highly effective and powerful high blood pressure agent, physicians can now prescribe Diovan to help reduce mortality in patients who have suffered a heart attack.”

The new label was first cleared by the UK, which acted as reference member state for pan-European approval, and Diovan has now been given the thumbs up by more than 50 countries around the world for this use [[28/10/04e]]. Meanwhile, Novartis says Diovan is also being evaluated by drug regulators in Europe for patients with heart failure.