New polypill to tackle cardiovascular disease

Two Australian organisations will work together to develop a new four-in-one tablet, designed to reduce the impact of heart disease and stroke

Bupa Australia and The George Institute for Global Health have announced they are joining forces to develop a new medication with a fixed-dose combination of commonly used blood pressure and cholesterol lowering medications, along with aspirin.

Research has shown that patients who have suffered a stroke or heart attack are 40% more likely to adhere to their treatments if they need to take just one pill instead of four different ones each day, says The George Institute.

For example, a 2015 individual patient data meta-analysis of 3,140 participants found polypill therapy significantly improved adherence compared with usual care at 12 months (80% vs 50%).

Results also showed polypill use led to lower systolic blood pressure and LDL-cholesterol in high-risk patients compared with usual care, with greatest improvements seen among those under-treated at baseline.

The study, published in the International Journal of Cardiology, used a polypill comprised of an anti-platelet, statin and ≥ two blood pressure lowering agents.

Principal director of The George Institute, Stephen McMahon, says the new drug could save millions of lives around the world.

“Heart disease and stroke are Australia’s biggest killers. Yet many people are dying unnecessarily because they either don’t continue taking all the medications they need, or in low income countries don’t even get the chance to start treatment because the cost is just too prohibitive,” says Professor McMahon.

“A polypill is a simple, innovative and incredibly efficient way of addressing these global health problems.”

The George Institute and Bupa Australia have partnered together through a 50-50 joint venture called SmartGenRx.

Bupa has invested $4.5 million (AUD) into the development of the polypill, which is expected to be publically available in Australia in three to four years, with the potential for subsequent delivery into other markets.

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