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Novartis' Cardiovascular Drug Gets Positive Recommendation

Novartis AG NVS announced that its cardiovascular drug, Entresto, was given a class I recommendation, as per the updated clinical practice guidelines released simultaneously by the American College of Cardiology (ACC), the American Heart Association (AHA) and the Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA), as well as the European Society of Cardiology.

Consequently, Entresto is now a standard therapy for heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) in the U.S. as an alternative to an ACE inhibitor or an angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB).

Moreover, doctors can switch HFrEF patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms from ACEs or ARBs to Entresto as per the latest guidelines.

The news bodes well for Novartis as the release of the latest guidelines would propel demand for Entresto. We remind investors that Entresto’s uptake was considerably slow since its launch due to access barriers.

The recommendations were based on positive results from the PARADIGM-HF trial, which showed Entresto significantly lowered the occurrence of death from cardiovascular causes and heart failure hospitalizations in patients with HFrEF.

Last week, Novartis announced that it will conduct approximately 40 active or planned clinical studies in a large global clinical program, FortiHFy, to generate additional data on symptom reduction, efficacy, safety, quality-of-life benefits and real world evidence on Entresto.

An increase in uptake of Entresto will positively impact Novartis’ top line, which is presently under pressure as the company continues to face stiff generic competition for some of its key drugs like Diovan and Gleevec. Additionally, its oncology drugs are facing competition from immuno-oncology therapies. Moreover, its Alcon segment is facing a decline in surgical equipment sales in the U.S. and emerging markets.

Novartis currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Some better-ranked stocks in the healthcare sector are Abbott Laboratories ABT, Johnson & Johnson JNJ and Sanofi SNY. All three stocks carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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