Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Study shows polypill to be safe and accepted by physicians and patients in developing countries

For a patient at high risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), keeping up with what pills to take at different times of the day can be tedious.

Window sills lined with prescription bottles – a pill for cholesterol, another for blood pressure, and an aspirin to keep blood thin and flowing – the list can get quite long and, as a result, many people, especially the elderly, often forget doses or take the wrong pill at the wrong time.

But what if there was a single pill that had all the benefits of multiple medications in one dose? Would people take it? Would doctors prescribe it? And would it be effective?

A new study done by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center provides evidence that, in fact, such a pill may be a viable option for developing countries, where CVD is strongly emerging and the demand for cost-effective, low maintenance treatment is high.

"The idea behind the polypill is that it offers a simpler way to give medications to people so that they will have better adherence to their pills," said Elsayed Z. Soliman, M.D., M.Sc., M.S., director of the Epidemiological Cardiology Research Center (EPICARE) at Wake Forest Baptist and lead author on the study. "It's not always easy for people to consistently take multiple pills, even if they are needed to treat a serious condition, like CVD. This is especially true in developing countries, where cost of CVD medications is another major challenge. This one pill has the potential to improve adherence while being less costly to the population in developing countries."

To adopt the polypill approach in developing countries, a large scale clinical trial is needed, Soliman added. However, before conducting such a trial, research was needed to see if it was even possible to conduct a clinical trial in a developing country.

Going into this study, there were many perceived barriers to doing research in a developing country, Soliman said. Among them, would the country have investigators capable and willing to participate in a study and the necessary follow-up? Would patients sign up to participate? And if the pill was proven to work, would doctors even feel comfortable prescribing it?

So Soliman and colleagues brought the study to Sri Lanka, where they enrolled 216 participants without diagnosed CVD, in the hope of answering some of these questions. Half of the participants received "standard' treatment for CVD risk prevention, and the other half received the polypill. Patients were recruited as planned. Two hundred three patients (94.0%) completed the treatment program and returned for their follow-up visits. No safety concerns were reported.

These findings suggest a high rate of patient acceptability, a finding that is bolstered by the fact that the majority of patients who completed the trial – 90 percent – indicated that they would take the polypill "for life" if proven to be effective in reducing CVD risk. Approximately 86 percent of the physicians surveyed agreed with and supported use of the polypill for primary prevention and 93 percent for secondary prevention of CVD. In terms of reduction in CVD risk, both the polypill and "standard treatment" resulted in marked reductions in systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol and 10-year estimated risk of CVD.

"Our trial has fulfilled its purposes," Soliman said. "We wanted to check the feasibility of doing a large-scale clinical trial with a polypill in a developing country and to examine the acceptability of the polypill by patients and physicians, and we now know that it's feasible and acceptable."

He added that the "standard" treatment in this trial was administered by highly specialized physicians in tertiary-care centers, making it a tough competitor, yet the simple polypill held its own.

Although feasibility has been demonstrated, Soliman explained that there are other important questions about the polypill that still need answers, such as: Which patient population should a polypill target: those who have not yet been diagnosed with CVD (primary prevention) or those who have a CVD diagnosis in their medical history (secondary prevention)? Also, what components should make up the pill and in what doses will they be most effective?

"There are many questions, but a single trial will never answer all of them," Soliman said. "At least now we know that it is possible to begin looking for the answers."

The study, published recently in Trials, was funded by World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva. Co-authors include Curt D. Furberg, M.D., Ph.D., of Wake Forest Baptist; Shanthi Mendis, M.D., of the WHO, Geneva; Wasantha P. Dissanayake, M.D., Noel P. Somasundaram, M.D., Padma S. Gunarantne, M.D., and I. Kumundini Jayasingne, M.D., of the Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka.

Media Relations Contacts: Jessica Guenzel,, (336) 716-3487; or Bonnie Davis,, (336) 716-4977.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is a fully integrated academic medical center located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The institution comprises the medical education and research components of Wake Forest School of Medicine, the integrated clinical structure and consumer brand Wake Forest Baptist Health, which includes North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Brenner Children's Hospital, the commercialization of research discoveries through the Piedmont Triad Research Park, as well a network of affiliated community based hospitals, physician practices, outpatient services and other medical facilities. Wake Forest School of Medicine is ranked among the nation's best medicine schools and is a leading national research center in fields such as regenerative medicine, cancer, neuroscience, aging, addiction and public health sciences. Wake Forest Baptist's clinical programs are consistently ranked as among the best in the country by U.S.News & World Report.

Jessica Guenzel | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>