For a number of years, there has been a great deal of talk about the use of a “polypill”, a single pill that contains low dosages of cheap generic drugs all known to play a role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. The idea is that this pill would be so cheap and so safe that anyone could (and should) take it and making a big contribution in preventing cardiovascular disease. The polypill could also be used in developing world since it is considered to be a very low cost drug and requires minimal supervision from providers.

The result of a randomized trial of the use of polypill on indicators of primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in India has shown this to be the case. The authors find that patients receiving a polypill relative to those receiving just components of the polypill:

“…the Polycap is non-inferior to its individual components in lowering blood pressure and heart rate (an indicator of β blockade). It lowers LDL cholesterol and urinary 11-dehydrothromboxane B2 substantially, but to a degree that is slightly less than that with simvastatin or aspirin alone.”

So while it is not as good as each individual component, it is almost as good, and it saves the hassles of trying to figure out what everyone needs. Plus, it seems as safe as other drugs.

I am pretty excited about this concept, these kinds of programs tend to do well from a public health perspective, and they could be very useful in mass primary prevention globally. There is still a lot of work to be done, but it also means that more targeted approaches might be better in some ways, but for now, pass the polypill….

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1 Response » to “Pass the polypill…please”

  1. Shaun Holt says:

    Hi Karen – great post. I’ve launched something in New Zealand which I think could be even better than the polypill, as the components and doses can be changed…



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