Four-in-one polypill ‘could save tens of thousands of lives’

Rebecca Aris

pharmaphorum

An all-in-one treatment that could potentially save tens of thousands of lives could be available in the UK within the next two years, according to expert Dr David Wald from Queen Mary, University of London. The treatment dramatically reduces major risk factors for heart attack and stroke in those over 50.

In a recent trial, it was administered to a group of healthy individuals aged 50 and over. A drop was seen in the blood pressure and cholesterol of study participants to those typical of a 20-year-old. The treatment should be made available in the UK ‘without delay’ according to experts. However, it is likely that it will take one to two years to overcome regulatory hurdles, explains study leader Dr David Wald, from Queen Mary, University of London.

“The polypill is a layered tablet containing three blood pressure-lowering drugs and a cholesterol-lowering statin. The health implications of our results are large. If people took the polypill from age 50, an estimated 28% would benefit by avoiding or delaying a heart attack or stroke during their lifetime, on average, those who benefit would gain 11 years of life without a heart attack or stroke.”

Dr David Wald, Queen Mary, University of London.

The pill is expected to be available by prescription and cost an estimated few hundred pounds a year.

Caution was awarded however, by the British Heart Foundation.

“Research into polypills is encouraging, but there are still many questions to answer before this ‘wonder drug’ is prescribed by doctors.”

“This research only studied a very small number of people, so we’d need to see further large-scale trials on a wider population to get more detailed results. It is also hard to say if the near-perfect adherence rate for taking the pills would be seen in real life.”

Natasha Stewart, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation

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Related news:

All-in-one ‘polypill’ could save lives, says report (Independent newspaper)

Reference links:

Research article (Public Library of Science ONE)

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