Today’s President’s pick is a bit unusual. I was watching television and noticed a new commercial. A jolly man was happily proclaiming that he had a new medication for controlling his high cholesterol. He seemed very pleased. We’ve all seen these commercials many times before, but then I noticed the name of the drug – Leqvio. Where had I heard that name before? A few seconds later, another name appeared on the screen – Inclisiran. When the commercial was finished, I realized that I had just seen my first mass-market advertisement for an oligonucleotide drug.
Leqvio is a double-stranded RNA that targets the mRNA encoding PCSK-9 protein. Reduced PCSK-9 leads to lower LDL-C (“bad” cholesterol”). The engineered duplex RNA causes profound decreases in LDL-C that are sustained over a remarkably long time (months). Clinical trials in thousands of patients showed an equally remarkable low toxicity. How big an impact will Leqvio have in the crowded market for drugs designed to lower cholesterol? Only time will tell. For now, congratulations to our colleagues at Alnylam, The Medicines Company, and Novartis for bringing Leqvio this far.