Novartis launches new partnership aimed at boosting CV care and outcomes

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Novartis has announced a new partnership that will pilot a new model of care aimed at improving cardiovascular health as it also looks ahead to the potential reimbursement of a new therapy.

The partnership involves Novartis, Telstra Health and Monash University.

The ASCERTAIN implementation science study will review approximately 600 patients, across 20 sites in both urban and rural locations.

The study has been designed by Monash University’s Victorian Heart Institute. The new model of care pilot aims to improve patient management through participating clinics in a primary care setting. It will use digital tools, such as educational text messages and questionnaires, and nurse practitioners.

The study will be overseen by experts from the Victorian Heart Hospital and enabled by technology provided by Telstra Health.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Australia with one person dying every 12 minutes. Factors such as obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure are significant risk factors for people aged over 35.

High cholesterol alone is responsible for more than a third of all the years of healthy life lost to heart disease in Australia. Reducing levels of 'bad’ cholesterol reduces the risk of a cardiovascular event like a heart attack or stroke. However, Australia has barely been able to 'move the needle' on cholesterol in ten years, with 6.1 per cent of the population living with the disease in 2017-2018. Ten years earlier this was 5.7 per cent.

“Telstra Health’s digital health platform capabilities, including advanced data analytics and real-time clinical decision support, are enabling our healthcare providers to quickly and effectively identify and treat Australians most at risk of cardiovascular disease, regardless of where they live. GPs will have a range of new digital solutions available to identify people eligible to participate in the trial, in turn improving access to the most modern and advanced treatments available," said Telstra Health general manager for Solutions and Growth, Rupert Lee.

Cardiologist Professor Stephen Nicholls, the director of the Victorian Heart Hospital and Monash Victorian Heart Institute, said tackling some basic challenges can help manage high cholesterol levels.

This includes heightening awareness, achieving regular testing, reviewing and updating clinical guidelines to ensure they reflect the latest evidence-based models of management and increasing access to more effective treatments:

“Half of our high-risk patients in Australia do not have their cholesterol treated appropriately. So, whatever we’re doing today isn’t working for a lot of people, that’s not a criticism, that’s a reality. It’s got to be better because we fail 50 per cent of our patients, and that fail rate is only going to go higher every time we push the targets for ‘bad’ cholesterol levels lower,” said Professor Nicholls.

The cardiovascular disease challenge is more acute in regional and remote communities, where deaths can be more than 50 per cent higher when compared to the major capital cities.

Australians living in the most disadvantaged areas are also nearly twice as likely to be hospitalised for a heart attack than those in the most advantaged areas.

Novartis said that, if successful, the ‘hyper-care’ pilot could be scaled nationally and that it could save thousands of lives, prevent life-threatening events and save $66.6 million in health costs over five years.

“Too many Australians continue to lose their lives unnecessarily from CVD as a result of risk factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure," said the country president of Novartis Australia and New Zealand, Richard Tew.

"We have the tools at our disposal, now is the time to come together through unique partnerships like this, to think outside the box, and drive improvements in health outcomes. This study is an example of how we can do this."

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee will consider Novartis' twice-yearly injectable therapy for high cholesterol, LEQVIO (inclisiran) at its meeting this week.