Novartis Pharma Services has restated its commitment to tackling the menace of cardiovascular diseases in Nigeria.
Speaking at a recent event organised by the company to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Diovan (Valsartan), an antihypertensive agent, Pharm. (Mrs) Vera Nwanze, Novartis’ country group head for English-speaking West Africa, said that the event was a testament to the company’s continued commitment to easing the sufferings of patients with cardiovascular diseases.
Mrs Nwanze, while delivering her welcome address at the colourful ceremony chaired by Prof. Austin Obasohan and held at the Sheraton Hotels& Towers, Ikeja, Lagos, stated further that Diovan’s 25th anniversary was also a celebration of 25 successful years’ commitment to evidence-based medicine, adding that Diovan had become the most prescribed ARB in the world.
The Novartis boss noted that hypertension had continued to be a huge public health burden with over 972 million people worldwide living with the ailment, stressing that 34 per cent of the hypertension figure was in developing countries.
She called for better control of the health condition, stating that it had been projected that by 2025, the number of adults with hypertension will increase by 60 per cent, thus increasing the number of the hypertension population to 1.56 billion people. She added that 80 per cent of the increase was projected to come from developing countries.
Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Obasohan, while speaking on the topic, ‘Prevalence, Burden, Control Rates and Treatment of Hypertension’, stated that worldwide prevalence of hypertension was increasing, adding that most epidemiological studies in different parts of the countries put prevalence rates at 20 to 25 per cent.
Obasohan, a consultant physician and cardiologist at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, noted that the peculiarities of hypertension in Nigeria were: high prevalence of the condition, mainly in the urban areas; frequent under-diagnosis, under-treatment and under-control; low levels of awareness, as well as the severity of the condition’s complications.
Prof. Obasohan disclosed further that when untreated, about 50 per cent of hypertensive patients die of congestive heart failure or coronary artery disease, about 33 per cent succumb to stroke, while 10 to 15 per cent die from complications of renal failure.
He noted that effective management of hypertension in Nigeria required the use of thiazide diuretics or CCBs as monotherapy, or in combination with other classes of drugs, adding that hypertension control rate was currently poor in the country.
On what should guide physicians on the selection of antihypertensive agent, Prof. Obasahon emphasised three crucial factors, including efficacy, tolerability and organ protection.
Also making a presentation on ‘Diovan Landmark Studies’ at the occasion, Prof. Jane Ajuluchukwu, a consultant cardiologist from the College of Medicine, University of Lagos/Lagos University Teaching Hospital (CMUL/LUTH) disclosed that, based on a trial carried out at LUTH, the effectiveness of (Diovan) Valsartan had been established in the management of hypertension, heart failure and myocardial infarction.
In his own presentation on the topic, ‘Diovan Milestones,’ Pharm. Charles Emakpase, said that Diovan was the only agent in its class approved to treat high blood pressure, high-risk heart attack survivors and patients with heart failure.
He disclosed that Diovan, first launched in 1996, was available in more than 120 countries for treating high blood pressure; more than 90 countries for heart failure, and more than 70 countries for heart attack survivors.
Emakpa serevealed further that Co-Divan, also launched in 1997,was equally approved in over 100 countries worldwide, adding that, in July 2008, the United States’ Food and Drug Agency (FDA) approved Co-Divan for the first-line treatment of hypertension in patients unlikely to achieve blood pressure control on a single agent.
He added that Norvatis was committed to patient-centric innovations, as well as supporting physicians to transform the lives of hypertensive patients.
Novartis, he said, was also dedicated to pioneering the future of hypertension treatment through the development of further novel therapies.
The highlight of the occasion was the cutting of the Diovan anniversary cake by the dignitaries at the occasion.