Novartis claims PhIII success for top heart drug prospect

Novartis says that a late-stage study of its heart failure drug RLX030 (serelaxin) hit one of two primary endpoints for a key symptom of acute heart failure. Investigators said the drug arm also experienced a lower risk of death compared to the group which received a placebo plus standard of care. The data will be laid out at the AHA meeting in November. 

The outcome should mark a big win for the investors in Corthera, which initially developed this drug. Three years ago, Novartis ($NVS) bought out the company for $120 million in cash and promises of up to $500 million more in milestones. At the time, the pharma giant said that it planned to submit the drug for an approval in 2013. Since then, Novartis has identified this drug as one of its top pipeline prospects. 

Investigators say that the drug significantly reduced the rate of dyspnea, or shortness of breath, which is the most common symptom of AHF.

Novartis says that RLX030 is the first in a new class of medicines and "is a recombinant form of the human hormone relaxin-2 which occurs naturally in both men and women. In women, levels of relaxin-2 rise to support important physiological changes during pregnancy. Serelaxin acts by relaxing the blood vessels, leading to reduced stress on the heart and kidneys in both men and women."

- here's the press release