11/06/2012 07:51 pm ET Updated Jan 07, 2013

Serelaxin: Acute Heart Failure Drug Reduces Deaths By 37%, Study Shows

LOS ANGELES, Nov 6 (Reuters) - An experimental Novartis AG drug to treat hospitalized acute heart failure patients reduced deaths by 37 percent compared with a placebo and appeared to be safe, according to data from a pivotal trial presented on Tuesday.

The drug, Serelaxin, which is a form of a human hormone that relaxes blood vessels and eases stress on the heart and other organs, is considered one of the most important medicine's in the Swiss drugmaker's developmental pipeline.

"With a meaningful mortality benefit, we believe Serelaxin could represent a $2.5 billion (annual) sales opportunity," Deutsche Bank analysts said in a research note prior to release of the final data at the American Heart Association scientific meeting in Los Angeles.

In the study of 1,161 patients, the drug cut deaths from any cause at six months by 37 percent and led to marked reduction in worsening of heart failure during hospitalization, researchers said.

Patients who received 48 hours of continuously infused serelaxin experienced more than 45 percent fewer episodes of worsening heart failure symptoms than those who got a placebo.