27 February 2009

New 2-pronged BP drug in SA

Pharmaceutical giant Novartis recently launched an anti-hypertensive medication that combines two leading blood pressure medications into one convenient tablet.


Pharmaceutical giant Novartis recently launched an anti-hypertensive medication that combines two leading blood pressure medications - valsartan and amlodipine - into one convenient tablet.

The product, Exforge, is a prescription medication used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension). It contains two prescription medicines that work together to lower blood pressure: amlodipine, a calcium channel blocker (CCB), and valsartan, an angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB).

The blood pressure–lowering effects of Exforge have been studied in many clinical trials that included over 5 000 patients with high blood pressure, and its safety has been evaluated in over 2 600 patients with high blood pressure; over 1 440 of these patients were treated for at least six months, and over 540 of these patients were treated for at least one year.

Although the active ingredients, valsartan (sold as Diovan in South Africa) and amlodipine are already available in South Africa in separate tablets, Exforge combines these medicines in one convenient tablet and retails at a slightly lower price than the two products, including their dispensing fees.

Dangers of blood pressure
High blood pressure and its complications are the world’s number one cause of death, and each year it accounts for approximately one in eight deaths and causes damage to people’s hearts, eyes, brains, and kidneys.

If blood pressure is properly controlled, the incidence of stroke can be reduced by up to 40%, heart attacks by up to 25% and heart failure by up to 50%.

The risk of dying from heart disease or stroke doubles with every 20 mm Hg rise in systolic pressure or 10 mm Hg rise in diastolic pressure.

Approximately two thirds of people who have their first heart attack and three quarters of people who have their first stroke have blood pressures higher than 140/90 mm Hg.

Information supplied by Novartis

Read more:
Hypertension Centre

February 2009


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Hypertension expert

Dr Jacomien de Villiers qualified as a specialist physician at the University of Pretoria in 1995. She worked at various clinics at the Department of Internal Medicine, Steve Biko Hospital, these include General Internal Medicine, Hypertension, Diabetes and Cardiology. She has run a private practice since 2001, as well as a consultant post at the Endocrine Clinic of Steve Biko Hospital.

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