Swiss drugmaker Novartis announced Saturday that its new heart failure drug reduces cardiovascular disease risk by 20 percent as compared to the standard treatments.

Basel, the Switzerland-based pharmaceutical giant, said that the experimental drug LCZ696 is better than the more commonly used heart failure drug enalapril.

ACE inhibitors such as enalapril have been ruling heart failure therapy for about 25 years now. The promising results of the study might help Novartis beat these drugs and bring newer treatment into the market. Timothy Anderson, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in New York, told Bloomberg that the new drug might generate as much as $8 billion a year in sales. Novartis said that it will file for U.S. approval this year.

The efficacy of the new drug was tested in The PARADIGM-HF trial. The researchers said that they had to stop the trial as the medications' performance was beyond expectations.

"By demonstrating a very significant reduction in cardiovascular deaths while improving Quality of Life, Novartis' new heart failure medicine, LCZ696, represents one of the most important cardiology advances of the last decade," said David Epstein, Division Head, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, according to a news release.

The study included 8,500 people in 47 countries. It was conducted by the researchers working with Novartis as well as independent bodies. The trial was stopped seven months earlier than the expected.

"We are really excited," said Dr. Milton Packer of UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, one of the study authors. The benefit "exceeded our original expectations."

Heart failure is when the heart can't pump enough blood in the body. It usually develops when the muscles in the heart weakens over time. Some six million people in the U.S suffer from heart failure and it is one of the top causes for hospitalization and early deaths among Americans.

LCZ696 is a twice-a-day pill and has two medications. The drug blocks the effects of substances that harm the heart. One of the chemicals in the drug also dilates blood vessels, allowing heart to pump efficiently.

The study is published in the journal New England Journal of Medicine.