Novartis (NYSE: NVS) may ASPIRE for great things from blood pressure medication Tekturna, but its latest clinical trial won't help. Perhaps we should have suspected the worst when the company had to stretch to name the trial ASPIRE (Aliskiren Study in Post-MI patients to Reduce rEmodeling).

Here's a cheat sheet for those playing acronym bingo at home:

  • Aliskiren is the chemical name for Tekturna.
  • "MI" stands for myocardial infarction, aka heart attacks.
  • "Remodeling" means changes in the shape of the heart that occur after a heart attack.

The trial tested Tekturna's ability, in combination with other blood-pressure medications, to keep changes in the heart from reducing its function. Unfortunately, the hearts of patients taking Tekturna had essentially the same level of pumping ability as those taking placebos, and the side effects seemed worse.

Novartis is testing Tekturna, which was approved in 2007, in a whopping 14 (now 13) different trials codenamed ASPIRE HIGHER. I'm assuming the HIGHER stands for "higher revenue," because the drug could certainly use it. Sales of Tekturna, which goes by Rasilez elsewhere in the world, came in at just $290 million last year.

Regrettably for Tekturna, the blood-pressure medication space is insanely crowded. Novartis already has a $6 billion blockbuster in Diovan, and there are plenty of other treatments as well, including sanofi-aventis (NYSE: SNY) and Bristol-Myers Squibb's (NYSE: BMY) Avapro/Avalide. In addition, any newcomers have to deal with drugs that have already gone generic, like GlaxoSmithKline's (NYSE: GSK) Coreg and Pfizer's (NYSE: PFE) Norvasc.

Novartis may eventually be able to get Tekturna to the magical $1 billion blockbuster level, but first the company needs some hits from its ASPIRE HIGHER program. Alas, the current data will only help it aspire to reach a plateau.

Jim Mueller says this stock is undervalued, and Wall Street doesn't even know it.

Pfizer is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Novartis is a Global Gains recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days

Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Fool owns shares of GlaxoSmithKline and has a disclosure policy.