A drug that combines four different medicines and could halve deaths from heart attacks and stroke around the globe will enter human trials this week in London.
The once-a-day polypill has been the dream of doctors for many years, but because the drugs it contains, including aspirin, are cheap, there has been no financial incentive for the pharmaceutical industry to get involved.
Now, however, international teams of researchers, with the backing in the UK of the Wellcome Trust and the British Heart Foundation, are just a few years away from making the polypill an accessible reality.
Difficulties in combining four drugs in one tablet have been overcome and the Red Heart pill, as it has been christened, has been manufactured by the Indian generic drug company Dr Reddy’s. Volunteers are now being recruited for a 12-week pilot trial which will involve up to 700 people in six countries. If all goes well, the main trial with 5,000 to 7,000 volunteers will begin at the end of next year.
Anthony Rodgers, co-director of the clinical trials unit at the University of Auckland, leader of the project, said it had been a struggle to get the polypill this far. “The chances of mainstream pharmaceutical industry taking this on are slim.
“We spent a few years around about 2000-2002 trying to persuade a number of companies to do this, but got nowhere. Basically, their whole business model is around people paying a few hundred pounds a year for the latest blockbuster drug. A pill with established medicines that halved cardiovascular risk and could be available for £20 a year could be seen as a threat.”
Yeah, let’s keep screwing around with health problems so people can make money off it.
The current greed based economy we have today just doesn’t have the right priorities…