Novartis to request re-examination of serelaxin (RLX030) in acute heart failure (AHF) for conditional marketing authorization in EU

Novartis announced today it will shortly submit a revised filing package, including new data analyses, for re-examination for conditional approval of RLX030 (serelaxin) for acute heart failure by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) following a negative opinion issued today. In accordance with CHMP process a revised opinion could be granted in Q2 2014.

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The file for regulatory approval is continuing review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States where RLX030 was granted Breakthrough Therapy designation status in June 2013[2]. Reviews are also underway with health authorities in 16 countries around the world.

“With the results from RELAX-AHF showing significant mortality  benefits  with RLX030 in patients with AHF and recognizing that there had been no treatment breakthroughs in this area for 20 years, Novartis took a decision to file for regulatory approval,” said David Epstein, Division Head of Novartis Pharmaceuticals. “It has become apparent through the review process and in accordance with advice we’ve received that the current evidence package may be more compatible with an application for conditional approval in the EU. We look forward to providing a revised package for review to the CHMP shortly.”

In September 2013 the second phase III study RELAX-AHF-2 started recruitment of the over 6000 patients who are expected to be enrolled. The goal is to replicate the key findings of RELAX-AHF and the study will assess cardiovascular mortality as the primary endpoint. This would be one of the largest and most robust programs undertaken by a company for an AHF drug.

RLX030, a relaxin receptor agonist[3], is a form of a naturally occurring hormone (human relaxin 2) present in both men and women which rises in women during pregnancy to help the body cope with the additional cardiovascular demands[4],[5]. RLX030 is thought to have multiple effects including relaxing the blood vessels, reducing fluid buildup and protecting the heart and vital organs from the cascade of damage that occurs during an AHF episode[3],[6],[7],[8],[9]. More than 1.5 million AHF episodes happen every year in Europe alone[10],[11], with 1 in 5 patients not surviving a year afterwards[12],[13],[14],[15],[16],[17].


RLX030 was studied in the phase III RELAX-AHF trial, which showed it had both short and longer-term effects, relieving symptoms and reducing the rate of heart failure worsening[1]. In the trial patients who received RLX030 also had a 37% reduction in mortality at 6 months after an AHF episode compared to those who received conventional treatment[1]. Data from clinical trials has shown that RLX030 was generally well tolerated[1],[18].

About acute heart failure

Heart failure is a debilitating and potentially life-threatening condition where the heart cannot pump enough blood around the body. More than 15 million people suffer from heart failure globally and this number is increasing[10],[19]. The condition is often fatal when patients have one or repeated acute heart failure episodes[19]. As an AHF episode approaches, patients become severely breathless and rapidly gain weight due to fluid build-up in the lungs and around the body. This is often compared to the sensation of drowning[20].

Patients experiencing an AHF episode need to be rushed to the emergency room for urgent treatment, making AHF the most common cause of hospitalization in patients over 65 years[10],[21]. Currently 20 to 30% of patients die within 1 year after experiencing an AHF episode, and 3-4% do not survive the initial episode[12],[13],[14],[15],[16],[17]. This means AHF causes more deaths than some advanced cancers, including breast and bowel cancer[22].

About Novartis

Novartis provides innovative healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, eye care, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines and diagnostic tools, over-the-counter and animal health products. Novartis is the only global company with leading positions in these areas. In 2012, the Group achieved net sales of USD 56.7 billion, while R&D throughout the Group amounted to approximately USD 9.3 billion (USD 9.1 billion excluding impairment and amortization charges). Novartis Group companies employ approximately 133,000 full-time equivalent associates and operate in more than 140 countries around the world. For more information, please visit

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[2] Novartis press release ‘FDA grants Breakthrough Therapy designation to Novartis’ serelaxin (RLX030) for acute heart failure’ issued on June 21, 2013
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