Multiple meds, one ‘polypill’ for heart diseaseResearchers at UW-Madison are looking at a cheaper way to reduce the risk of heart disease.
By: By Shamane Mills, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Researchers at UW-Madison are looking at a cheaper way to reduce the risk of heart disease. But this medication may be hard to find at American pharmacies.
A combination pill of several different drugs to prevent heart disease is concept that has existed for decades. One pill instead of handful is more convenient for a patient. But few companies want to make so-called “polypills.” The ingredients of a polypill are off-patent and relatively cheap. Clinical trials for drugs are expensive so there's little incentive for pharmaceutical makers, says Dr. Leonelo Bautista. He is with UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health. He studied polypills in Latin America, where heart disease is high.
“The issue seems to be that the three medications — or four or five — you put in the polypill are all generic, so basically any lab could prepare these polypills," Bautista said.
He says he's aware of polypill manufacturers in India and Brazil, but none in the U.S. His study found a pill combining aspirin along with medicine for cholesterol and blood pressure reduced the lifetime risk of heart disease by 21 percent in men and 15 percent in women. At this point he says benefits appear to outweigh any possible risk of a polypill.
“We need to learn whether combining these three pills results in undesirable complications or side effects," Bautista said. "There have been two or three trials like that. None have shown an increase as compared to individual components.”
Bautista's study on polypills was published in the journal Health Affairs.