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Novartis (NVS - Snapshot Report) recently announced that data on its pipeline candidate RLX030 was published in the European Heart Journal and also presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) congress.

Data from the phase III study (RELAX-AHF) revealed that treatment with RLX030 improved symptoms and mortality rates across multiple subgroups of patients suffering from acute heart failure (AHF).

Further, the addition of RLX030 to conventional treatment led to improvements in breathlessness and mortality at 6 months across all pre-specified subgroups.

Novartis is developing RLX030 for the treatment of AHF.

We note that RLX030 is currently under review in several countries including the U.S. and the EU.

In Jun 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted “Breakthrough Therapy” designation to RLX030. The designation should help fasten the development and review process of the candidate.

As per Novartis, as many as 3.5 million AHF incidents take place in the U.S. and EU annually. The incidents are expected to go up further as the population ages.

We note that Novartis had another candidate LCZ696, which is in phase III development, for the treatment of chronic heart failure.

We are encouraged by the pipeline progress at Novartis. In Aug 2013, Novartis obtained ‘Breakthrough Therapy’ designation from the FDA on another pipeline candidate, BYM338, for the sporadic inclusion body myositis indication.

Novartis currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Right now, Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ - Analyst Report), Ironwood Pharmaceuticals (IRWD - Analyst Report), and Forest Laboratories Inc. (FRX - Analyst Report) look attractive with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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