The Polypill Is on Its Way

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The Polypill Is on Its Way

A dream combination?

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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Nurses frequently label patients “non-compliant” when “overwhelmed” would be more accurate. Too many pills, too many times a day. “I take 20 pills a day,” they might say, or, “How am I supposed to afford all this medicine?

While some have dreamed for years about a combination pill that could address several risk factors and still be affordable, others have urged caution. It is, after all, a very complicated process to be sure that a one-size-fits-all capsule really fits anybody. There are different dosages, different rates of absorption and different coatings that all need to be considered.

There might be hope, however, according to a breakthrough study conducted in Canada and India. Two thousand subjects, average age 54, followed nine varied regimens, including 400 who took the combination Polycap. The level of side effects in different groups was similar and therapeutic results were comparable over the 12 weeks of the study.

Polycap, formulated by Cadila Pharmaceuticals, which also sponsored the study, contains low-level doses of three blood pressure medicines (atenolol, ramipril and thiazide) plus a statin and the equivalent of a baby aspirin. The total cost of the generic ingredients is currently $17, and makers expect the drug to sell for far less when approved for market.

More large-scale testing is ahead, and the medication awaits FDA approval. Several rival manufacturers are also at work on a polypill.   

Elizabeth Hanink RN, BSN, PHN is a freelance writer with extensive hospital and community-based nursing experience.

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