Red heart pill (polypill) – a combination of aspirin, a statin which helps lower cholesterol, an ACE inhibitor and a thiazide to counter high blood pressure.
According to the world health organisation, 17 million people die every year from heart attack and stroke. What if we could cut this in half just by using the existing resources? Well, that’s what the ‘Red heart pill’ is all about. It is a combination of 4 drugs – aspirin which helps prevent the formation of clots within the blood vessels, a statin which helps lower cholesterol, an ACE inhibitor and a thiazide which helps lower blood pressure. There are low cost drugs but are very effective in the prevention of heart attacks.
Presently, a person who has had a heart attack has to take multiple drugs every day, the cost of which amounts to a few hundred dollars every year. Compare this to the ‘Red heart pill’ which would cost about $1 for a full month. The polypill had been the dream of doctors for a long time. Widespread use of the Red heart pill could translate into heavy losses for the pharmaceutical industry, which explains why they are reluctant to back this initiative. The Red Heart Pill has had backing in the UK from the Wellcome Trust and the British Heart Foundation.
The polypill is about to go into a 12 week pilot trial, with about 700 people in 6 countries. If all goes well, a main trial involving upto 7000 people will be conducted to further assess the benefits of the drug. The typical patient who would be prescribed the polypill would be a 55-year-old man, or slightly older woman, who smokes and is overweight. The red heart pill could be much beneficial especially in the developing countries where the low cost drug will be accessible to all sections of the society.