Inclisiran: The New Cholesterol Drug That Could Save 30,000 Lives

Four things you need to know about the cholesterol-lowering medication coming to the NHS.

A cholesterol-lowering drug will soon be offered to hundreds of thousands of people on the NHS. It’s estimated the drug could save 30,000 lives within the next decade.

Inclisiran is seen as the new “game-changer” and is expected to prevent 55,000 heart attacks and strokes, saving tens of thousands of people from an earlier death.

In England, more than two in five people have high cholesterol, meaning they also have a higher risk of developing heart disease. Heart disease makes up for around a quarter of deaths in England each year, NHS England said.

Around 6.5 million adults are currently taking lipid-lowering drugs such as statins – but this new drug could change that.

Eoneren via Getty Images

Who will it be given to?

Inclisiran will be offered to people who have high cholesterol or mixed dyslipidaemia – abnormally high levels of fats in their blood – who have already had a heart attack or stroke, under draft final guidance by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice).

An exact release date has not been confirmed, but NHS England said the drug will be rolled out at an unprecedented scale after the health service and manufacturer struck a deal that enables the use of Inclisiran at a cost-effective price.

How will it work?

The drug will be given as an injection by nurses as a first dose, followed by another injection three months later and then twice a year after that. The injection will be given by nurses in GP surgeries across England.

How is it different from what’s already out there?

Inclisiran is the first of its kind as it’s a new type of cholesterol-lowering treatment that uses RNA interference (RNAi) to help the liver remove harmful cholesterol from the blood. Clinical trial evidence has highlighted that it might lower levels when other treatments have not reduced them enough, Nice said.

A crucial difference, is that the drug can be given via a few injections per year, rather than a daily tablet.

What do experts say about it?

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 supported by the ground-breaking deal between NHS England and NHS Improvement and Novartis – a deal that could see as many as 300,000 people with high cholesterol or mixed dyslipidaemia who have already had a previous cardiovascular event receive the drug over the next three years.”

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “The NHS is committed to using cutting-edge treatments to save and improve patients’ lives.

“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.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “This is a huge step forward in tackling the scourge of heart disease, which tragically kills thousands every year.

“I want to thank the NHS, Novartis and Nice for this work to help treat one of the world’s deadliest diseases.”