Novartis chronic heart failure (CHF) drug Entresto has been introduced in the UK following its approval by the EMA last November.
The Swiss pharma group said Entresto has been introduced for the treatment of adult patients with symptomatic CHF with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF), a form of the disease in which the heart is unable to efficiently pump blood around the body.
To date Entresto has also been launched in the USA and Switzerland.
Around 3.5 million patients are diagnosed with HF every year in Europe, and there are around 15 million people living with the condition, with 50% of these dying within five years of diagnosis. Around half of all HF diagnoses involve patients with reduced ejection fraction.
Iain Squire, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Leicester, said Entresto "could change how heart failure patients are treated".
"Doctors can now offer suitable patients an option that has been shown in a large clinical trial to cut the risk of death and reduce the number of hospitalisations," he added.
Entresto was the first CHF therapy to show an improvement over ACE inhibitors - the gold-standard therapy for decades - in terms of improving survival.
The results of the PARADIGM-HF study showed that patients treated with LCZ696 were 20% less likely to die from a cardiovascular cause or hospitalisation and were also 16% less likely to die from any cause.
As a result Entresto has been touted as a game changer in CHF therapy, with predictions that it will become the cornerstone of therapy - and a $5bn-plus brand to boot.
Novartis' drug was also the first non-cancer therapy to be made available to patients under the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency's (MHRA) Early Access to Medicines Scheme (EAMS), and has already been backed for NHS use by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in draft guidance published last December.
At the time, NICE said that the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) for Entresto, compared to current heart failure treatment with heart drugs called ACE inhibitors and angiotensin-receptor blockers, was below its threshold and as a result "represented a cost effective use of NHS resources".
Heart failure affects nearly 550,000 people in the UK and costs the NHS about £2.3bn ($3.2bn) per year.