One size suits most for cardiovascular disease

Photo: Mykl Roventine
Photo: Mykl Roventine

Dr. Salim Yusuf of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario and Dr. Prem Pais of St. John’s Medical College, Bangalore, India have announced results of a clinical trial of Polycap – a new “superpill” for cardiovascular disease.

Polycap combines five medications in one capsule which is clearly good news for ensuring compliance. In addition, the components of the pill are all off-patent generic drugs which would cost a total $17 combined per month – potentially great news for patients, HMOs and developing nations.

Sounds good so far, but what evidence is there that Polycap works?

A study of 2,000 patients recently published in the Lancet showed that use of Polycap

  • Reduced the risk of heart attack by 62%
  • Reduced the risk of stroke by 48%
  • Reduced LDL cholesterol by 23%
  • Reduced total triglycerides by 10%
  • Lowered systolic blood pressure by more than seven units
  • Lowered diastolic blood pressure by about six units

The Polycap treatment was as safe as using each of the component drugs separately and was well tolerated overall. There were no additional adverse effects due to combining the various ingredients.

The study’s authors have concluded that several differently formulated polypills may be needed to ensure optimal treatment for all patients, but nevertheless the results of the “one size” study are impressive.

The data powerfully demonstrates that judicious use of cheap, older medications can achieve results comparable to the latest (pricey) pharmaceuticals.

With the sad state of the world’s economy we should expect to see more pharma “re-treads” coming down the pike.