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Switzerland-based pharmaceutical company, Novartis AG (NVS - Analyst Report) recently announced positive phase II data on its pipeline candidate, LCZ696, from the PARAMOUNT study.

The study showed significant reduction in a key indicator of morbidity and mortality in patients suffering from chronic heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HF-PEF).

Data from the phase II PARAMOUNT study showed that LCZ696 achieved its primary endpoint. After 12 weeks of treatment with LCZ696, there was a reduction of more than 23% in the stress maker NT-proBNP, compared to treatment with Diovan (valsartan).

The study also revealed that treatment with LCZ696 helped in the reduction of the left atrial size in patients after 36 weeks. Novartis reported that LCZ696 was well tolerated.

Novartis is currently studying LCZ696 in a phase III trial, PARADIGM-HF for the treatment of heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HF-REF). Data from an earlier phase II trial evaluating LCZ696 showed significant reduction in blood pressure versus Diovan. Another phase III trial for the first-line treatment of hypertension has been launched in Asia.

Already approved hypertension treatments include Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited’s (TKPYY) Edarbi and Merck & Co’s (MRK - Analyst Report) Cozaar.

Our Recommendation

We are pleased with Novartis’ wide range of products. We also note that there is no currently approved medication for the reduction of morbidity and mortality in HF-PEF patients. Up to half of the 20 million Europeans and Americans afflicted by heart failure are also suffering from this difficult-to-treat variant.  

Currently, we have a Neutral recommendation on Novartis. The company carries a Zacks #3 Rank (“Hold” rating) in the short run.

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