Novartis plots cardio trial in UK as London HQ opens

Novartis has announced the beginnings of a major cardiovascular outcomes trial in the UK, as it opened a new headquarters in London.

The big Swiss pharma had already made the commitment to conduct the trial of inclisiran in the UK at the JP Morgan summit at the start of the year.

This trial was part of a deal that was signed by The Medicines Company and NHS officials ahead of its $9.7 billion merger with Novartis at the end of last year.

Nevertheless it marks a significant move for Novartis, which has already worked closely with the NHS to bring CAR-T cancer therapies to the UK ahead of many other countries.

At the same time Novartis formally opened its new headquarters in White City, and pledged to expand its ‘digital biome’ programme to the UK.

Novartis is planning a primary prevention study with inclisiran in the UK, building on methods used to recruit 500,000 patients into the UK Biobank and conduct ORION-4, an ongoing study for patients who have already had a heart attack or stroke.

This second study would see the UK become the global trial centre. Novartis will work in partnership with the Nuffield Department of Population Health at Oxford University, the NHS and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) as part of this programme.

Novartis said its collaboration with the NHS will create a world-first population health model to a large at-risk patient population with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

If approved by ethics regulators and the cost-effectiveness body NICE, the proposed population-level agreement would provide access to treatment for secondary prevention atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, in patients who cannot reach cholesterol targets on statins alone.

This could help the NHS meet its long-term commitment to prevent 150,000 cardiovascular deaths over ten years.

It may help deliver ambitions outlined in the government’s Accelerated Access Collaborative commitment that aims to tackle variation in access to novel medicines across the NHS.

There is also a proposal to scale up manufacturing of oligonucleotide drugs such as inclisiran.

Novartis’ CEO, Vas Narasimhan, said: “As a company working to improve and extend human life, we’re optimistic about today’s announcement and what this could mean in the ongoing battle against cardiovascular disease—the world’s leading cause of death and disability.

“We see the UK, with its deep commitment to life sciences, as an attractive place to reimagine medicine.”

Health secretary Matt Hancock was also on hand to open the new headquarters at a ceremony attended by Novartis’ president Marie-France Tschudin, and its managing director for UK, Ireland, and Nordics, Haseeb Ahmad.

The big Swiss pharma is extending its Novartis Biome digital innovation to the UK, which aims to help health tech startups in the country.

Novartis also plans to host a scientific symposium for around 200 UK scientists at the Imperial College London campus in White City.

Feature image shows health secretary Matt Hancock, with Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan, Novartis oncology general manager for UK and Ireland Mari Scheiffele, and managing director, UK, Ireland and Nordics, Haseeb Ahmad opening the HQ in White City, London.

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