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Efient launched in the UK

Published on 09/04/09 at 11:36am

Lilly and Daiichi Sankyo's blood-thinning drug Efient has been launched in the UK for heart attack patients, taking on blockbuster Plavix.

The co-marketers have chosen the UK as the place for the world's first launch of the oral anti-platelet drug, which is expected to earn around $3 billion in peak sales.

The drug's first licensed indication is for people who have acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and will be given following a PCI procedure (angioplasty) to reopen a blocked artery.

Patients who undergo this surgery are at risk of developing a blood clot, and taking Efient (prasugrel) should help cut the number of heart attacks or strokes in these patients.

About 8.5% of ACS patients experience a clot-related heart problem within a year following treatment.

The procedure is being used increasingly, with 73,000 PCI treatments carried out each year in the UK, compared to just 10,000 19 years ago.

Efient is in the same class as Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis' Plavix, the well-established anti-blood clot treatment which is one of the best selling drugs in the world.

Lilly and Daiichi Sankyo hope their drug can take market share from Plavix, and have data to show it is superior in preventing blood clot related incidents.

Data suggested Efient reduces the risk of cardiovascular death, heart attack or stroke in ACS PCI patients by 19% when compared to Plavix.

Like Plavix, Efient can be used in conjunction with aspirin to prevent further heart attacks and strokes.

Studies have shown it can reduce the risk of recurrence by 35% versus Plavix in trials.

Nevertheless, Efient is not expected to overhaul Plavix, as the established drug has a wealth of data behind it, and is familiar to doctors.

Sanofi-Aventis and BMS may also exploit concerns about the elevated bleeding risk seen in Efient, which is greater than seen in patients using Plavix.

Unstable angina and heart attack are the major cause of death and disability worldwide, commented Dr Marcus Flather, consultant cardiologist at Londons Royal Brompton Hospital.

The UK still has one of the highest rates of these conditions in the world and new drugs like prasugrel, in addition to aspirin, are vital to decreasing the risk for patients with these life-threatening conditions.

ACS is the most dangerous sign of coronary heart disease (CHD), and treatment for cardiovascular disease costs £14.4 billion each year.

CHD is the main form of cardiovascular disease, which is responsible for 35% of all deaths in the UK each year.

Around 2.6 million Britons have had a heart attack or angina, and 90,000 people die from heart attacks each year.

More than 90% of heart attacks are caused by blood clots.

A spokesman for Lilly said the drug would be launched across Europe during 2009.

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