Facebook Twitter

Experimental drug helps ease heart woes, tests show

SHARE Experimental drug helps ease heart woes, tests show

BOSTON — Two large tests have concluded that the experimental drug nesiritide can help people suffering from congestive heart failure feel better and improve the blood flow to their bodies.

Congestive heart failure, in which the heart gradually loses its efficiency, causing a buildup of fluid in the lungs and other tissues, affects about 5 million Americans.

In two studies, one with 127 patients and another involving 305, Dr. Wilson S. Colucci of Boston University Medical Center and his colleagues found that people who took nesiritide improved significantly compared to members of a control group who received a placebo.

Nesiritide is sold under the brand name Natrecor by Scios.

In one test, the largest dose of the drug reduced labored breathing in 67 percent of the cases, compared with only 14 percent of the volunteers taking a placebo. Fatigue was reduced in 38 percent, versus 5 percent for placebo recipients.

The only side effect was low blood pressure. One drawback to the drug is that it must be given intravenously.

Colucci, in a press release, said nesiritide "would be a valuable addition to the initial treatment of patients admitted to the hospital" for worsening congestive heart failure.

"The relative absence of adverse side effects circumvent several of the limitations we have with currently available treatments," he said.