Vericiguat is a medicinal product in clinical development for the treatment of heart failure (HF) with reduced ejection fraction. HF is a complex clinical syndrome of symptoms and signs that suggest the efficiency of the heart as a pump is impaired. Symptoms include breathlessness and fatigue, and signs of the condition include swollen ankles and crackling sounds in the lungs. More than half of people with HF have a reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF), also referred to as systolic heart failure, where the heart muscle does not contract effectively, and therefore less oxygen-rich blood is pumped out to the body. There remains a large unmet need for new therapies in the treatment of HFrEF.
Vericiguat is given by mouth (tablets) and works by stimulating a protein called soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC). In people without HF, sGC is naturally stimulated by a chemical called nitric oxide (NO) present within the blood vessels. The stimulation of sGC is required for normal heart function. Patients with HF produce less NO, meaning they are unable to naturally stimulate sGC which leads to symptoms of HF. Therefore, stimulation of sGC by vericiguat helps to relieve symptoms of HF. If licensed, vericiguat may provide a treatment option for people with HFrEF who currently have limited therapies available.
Icosapent ethyl is in clinical development as a treatment to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in high-risk patients who have their cholesterol levels controlled with statin treatment, but have elevated triglycerides and other cardiovascular risk factors. Cardiovascular events include heart attack, angina and stroke. These diseases are the main cause of death in the UK, accounting for over a quarter of deaths each year. Patients receiving statin treatment are still at a high risk and would benefit from treatment to reduce cardiovascular events.