New blood pressure med OK'd

A doctor reads a blood pressure gauge during the examination of a patient.

TEXT OF STORY

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Drug company Novartis is cheering. The FDA has approved its new blood pressure medication Tekturna. As Helen Palmer reports from the Health Desk at WGBH, this drug tackles blood pressure in a totally different way, but that doesn't mean selling it will be easy.


HELEN PALMER: A quarter of Americans have high blood pressure, including half of those over 55.

But Kathryn Phelps of the Pink Sheet, a pharmaceutical newsletter, says Novartis faces competition here.

KATHRYN PHELPS: There are a lot of established classes of drugs. This is a new class, which is good, but it's also hard to break into the established marketplace.

Especially, says Phelps, as many of those drugs are cheap generics.

Still, Mary Argent-Katwala, a drug analyst with Decision Resources, expects Tekturna to boost the blood pressure therapy market.

MARY ARGENT-KATWALA: It's about $24 billion at the moment. And we think over the next 10 years, Tekturna could add about $2 billion to that.

Novartis claims Tekturna has an edge. It controls blood pressure for a full 24 hours. That's important because many strokes and heart attacks occur in the early morning.

In Boston, I'm Helen Palmer for Marketplace.

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