Business of Health Care: Polypill

Oct 18, 2019

High blood pressure and high cholesterol have long been two major risk factors for serious conditions such as heart attack and stroke. 

While there are many medications that can help control blood pressure and lower cholestrol, often access to these drugs is limited to residents living in low-income communities. 

Researchers are in the early stages of testing a new approach to solve this issue in United States - an approach that has been successfully employed in other countries with limited access to medical care. 

A new, low-cost "polypill" containing four drugs - a cholesterol-lowering medication and low-doses of three blood pressure medications - has recently been tested among residents of a low-income community in Mobile, Alabama. 

The initial results of the polypill study were encouraging. The participants taking the polypill lowered their bad cholesterol and reduced their blood pressure. 

The study didn't last long enough to make a determination on whether the polypill lowered actual hear attacks and strokes in the community. 

In the United States, doctors typically prefer to tailor medications to each individual patient, which is why this approach is so novel even if the medications that make up the polypill are not. 

Unfortunately, the routine doctors' visits and cost of some of these prescriptions have prevented many lower income Americans from having consistent access to all the medications they need. 

While a unique care plan is still ideal for patients if possible, for those for whom it may not be, polypill may turn out to be the next best thing.