SOURCE: Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation

March 06, 2007 07:00 ET

Tekturna® -- the First New Type of High Blood Pressure Medicine in More Than a Decade -- Receives Its First Approval in the US

EAST HANOVER, NJ -- (MARKET WIRE) -- March 6, 2007 --

--  Tekturna, the first approved direct renin inhibitor, acts on one of
    the body's key regulators of blood pressure by targeting renin
    
--  Tekturna provides significant blood pressure reduction for a full 24
    hours and is generally well tolerated
    
--  Important additional blood pressure lowering observed when Tekturna
    added to other high blood pressure medicines
    
--  High blood pressure is a leading contributor to cardiovascular
    disease, the world's No. 1 killer
    
Novartis announced today that the United States has become the first country in the world to approve Tekturna® (aliskiren) tablets, the first new type of medicine in more than a decade for treating high blood pressure -- a condition estimated to affect nearly one billion people worldwide and remains uncontrolled in nearly 70% of patients.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued the approval for Tekturna as the first in a new class of drugs called direct renin inhibitors. A once-daily oral therapy, Tekturna acts by targeting renin -- an enzyme responsible for triggering a process that can contribute to high blood pressure. This condition is a leading contributor to cardiovascular disease, considered the world's leading cause of death.

"Renin angiotensin system activity contributes to many of the complications associated with high blood pressure," said Marc A. Pfeffer, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Cardiologist, at Brigham & Women's Hospital. "By inhibiting this important system at its origin, renin production, a direct renin inhibitor, such as Tekturna, offers an exciting therapeutic option for treating hypertension."

In an extensive clinical trial program involving more than 6,400 patients, Tekturna provided significant blood pressure reductions for a full 24 hours. Furthermore, Tekturna provided added efficacy when used in combination with other commonly used blood pressure medications. In clinical trials, the approved doses of Tekturna were generally well tolerated and the most common side effect experienced by more patients taking Tekturna than patients taking a sugar pill was diarrhea. Other less common reactions to Tekturna include cough and rash.

Tekturna should be discontinued as soon as pregnancy is detected as it may harm an unborn baby, causing injury and even death. Women who plan to become pregnant should talk to their doctor about other treatment options before taking Tekturna.

Angioedema has been rarely reported in patients taking Tekturna.

"Many patients require two or more medicines to control their blood pressure. As a new treatment approach, Tekturna has the potential to help these patients manage their disease," said James Shannon, MD, Global Head of Development at Novartis Pharma AG. "Tekturna demonstrates our commitment to developing innovative medicines to help the millions of patients suffering from high blood pressure."

Novartis is committed to conducting a large outcome trial program to evaluate the long-term effects of Tekturna and direct renin inhibition.

Developed in collaboration with Speedel, Tekturna was approved by the FDA for the treatment of high blood pressure as monotherapy or in combination with other high blood pressure medications. The use of Tekturna with maximal doses of ACE inhibitors has not been adequately studied. Tekturna is expected to be available in US pharmacies as 150 mg and 300 mg tablets beginning in March 2007.

For more information about Tekturna call 1-888-TEKTURNA (1-888-835-8876) or visit www.tekturna.com.

Disclaimer

The foregoing release contains forward-looking statements which can be identified by the use of terminology such as "potential", "commitment to developing", "committed to conducting", "to evaluate", "expected", "will be", or similar expressions, or by express or implied discussions regarding the long-term effects of Tekturna and direct renin inhibition, potential future approvals of Tekturna, or future sales. Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such statements. There can be no guarantee regarding the long-term effects of a patient's use of Tekturna and direct renin inhibition. Nor can there be any guarantees that Tekturna will be approved for sale in any additional markets, or that it will reach any particular sales levels. In particular, management's expectations regarding the approval and commercialization of Tekturna could be affected by, among other things, unexpected clinical trial results, including additional analysis of existing clinical data and new clinical data; unexpected regulatory actions or delays or government regulation generally; competition in general; increased government, industry, and general public pricing pressures; the company's ability to obtain or maintain patent or other proprietary intellectual property protection; and other risks and factors referred to in Novartis AG's current Form 20-F on file with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those anticipated, believed, estimated or expected. Novartis is providing the information in this press release as of this date and does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in this press release as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

About Novartis

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation researches, develops, manufactures and markets leading innovative prescription drugs used to treat a number of diseases and conditions, including those in the cardiovascular, metabolic, cancer, organ transplantation, central nervous system, dermatological, gastrointestinal and respiratory areas. The company's mission is to improve people's lives by pioneering novel healthcare solutions.

Located in East Hanover, New Jersey, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation is an affiliate of Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS), a world leader in offering medicines to protect health, treat disease and improve well-being. Our goal is to discover, develop and successfully market innovative products to treat patients, ease suffering and enhance the quality of life. Novartis is the only company with leadership positions in both patented and generic pharmaceuticals. We are strengthening our medicine-based portfolio, which is focused on strategic growth platforms in innovation-driven pharmaceuticals, high-quality and low-cost generics, human vaccines and leading self-medication OTC brands. In 2006, the Group's businesses achieved net sales of USD 37.0 billion and net income of USD 7.2 billion. Approximately USD 5.4 billion was invested in R&D. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ approximately 101,000 associates and operate in over 140 countries around the world. For more information, please visit http://www.novartis.com.