Heart Failure Treatments in the Pipeline Focus on Stimulating Heart Muscle

Dave Dixon, PharmD, discussed heart failure treatments in the pipeline and what he sees for the future of pharmacists in cardiovascular care.

Pharmacy Times spoke with Dave Dixon, PharmD, an associate professor and department chair at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy.

Q: Are there pharmacologic treatments for heart failure in the pipeline?

Dave Dixon, PharmD: Yeah, so there's definitely more agents that are focused on kind of stimulating and getting the heart muscle to work more efficiently. So vericiguat, like I mentioned, is the cyclic GMP stimulating agent. There were some other therapies in the pipeline like omecamtiv and all these drugs are acting on mechanisms that help that heart muscle function. So, that's definitely a big area of development right now.

Q: How have pharmacists’ roles in heart failure evolved?

It's been amazing, even in my own career, to just observe the increasing role for pharmacists and especially if you look at health systems, in terms of what positions they're hiring, the growth and the inclusion of pharmacists in heart failure clinic models and cardiovascular prevention models. You know, the very first study to show that pharmacists improve blood pressure outcomes was published in 1973, so this is not new. But I think it’s becoming viewed by many, in the cardiovascular field, at least, that including pharmacists in these models improves outcomes. It's becoming more of the norm or the expectation. So, we have a long way to go, of course, but I think it's really exciting to see the growth and we have so many new therapies, that's great. But then it does present challenges in terms of implementation. How do we get access for patients to these medications? Are we making sure that providers are well educated, and the patients are well educated on the benefits and risks and monitoring of these medications and adherence? You know, it's great, we have a lot of options to treat heart failure, but it requires a lot of medications and, you know, persistent with those therapies over time is how patients benefit. So, the role for pharmacists just continues to expand and I'm excited.