Should we believe the polypill hype?

One piece of big news out of the recent American College of Cardiology meetings was a “proof of concept” study involving a cardiovascular polypill.

Made up of five cheap, generic medications – aspirin, a statin, a beta-blocker, diruetic, and ace-inhibitor – the pill was shown to be well tolerated and reduce both blood pressure and cholesterol.

Which is exactly what this 5-in-1 pill should do.

That said, we are a ways off from such a drug becoming commonplace. There are various questions yet to be answered, including, whether there is an actual decrease in both total and cardiovascular mortality, as well as whether the long-term side effects of the general population taking these five medications are truly negligible.

It should also be noted that pharmaceutical companies have little incentive to develop such a drug, since its components are generic and provide very little financial return.

A panel over at MedPage Today talks about the implications of the polypill, and cautions against believing the hype surrounding the news.

As one of the panel members says, “We already have a polypill — it’s called exercise.”

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