An all-in-one “polypill” with the potential to save many tens of thousands of lives each year in the UK could be available in less than two years.
Results from a ground-breaking trial today showed that the four-medicine pill dramatically reduces major risk factors for heart attack and stroke.
In a group of healthy individuals aged 50 and over, it cut levels of blood pressure and cholesterol to those typical of a 20-year-old.
If everyone in the UK from a similar age group took the pill, the findings suggest an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 deaths would be saved.
The number of averted non-fatal cases, including many involving life-changing disablement, could be double this figure.
Experts called for the polypill to be made generally available to the UK population “without delay”.
Realistically it could take another one to two years for all the regulatory hurdles to be overcome, according to study leader Dr David Wald, from Queen Mary, University of London.
The polypill is a layered tablet containing three blood pressure-lowering drugs and a cholesterol-lowering statin.
Dr Wald, from Queen Mary, University of London, said: “The health implications of our results are large. If people took the polypill from age 50, an estimated 28% would benefit by avoiding or delaying a heart attack or stroke during their lifetime; on average, those who benefit would gain 11 years of life without a heart attack or stroke.”
The findings are published today in the online journal Public Library of Science ONE.