Polypill 'may not take off in the UK' czar warns

Exclusive - Heart czar Roger Boyle calls for more evidence and points to danger of 'medicalising' the public.

The polypill is 'unlikely to take off' in England, according to Professor Roger Boyle, England's national director for heart disease and stroke.

It has been proposed that taking a polypill could cut the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by almost 80 per cent.

Last month, an Indian study found that the polypill could reduce BP, heart rate and LDL cholesterol levels without causing any side-effects.

But at a debate on the use of polypills at the House of Commons last week, Professor Boyle told GP that there was still insufficient safety data.

'I like the concept but it is unlikely to take off as we need to know more about the safety of the polypill,' he said.

'So far the only safety data we have is in 2,000 people in the Indian study who were followed for just 12 weeks.'

Professor Boyle also warned that the polypill would face opposition from the public, who may reject the idea of taking a polypill and view it as 'medicalising' the population.

There is a 'fine line' between preventative medicine and medicalising people, he said.

But Professor Sir Nicholas Wald, the inventor of the polypill, dismissed the notion of medicalising the public.

'Taking the polypill should be seen as a simple preventa-tive measure like brushing your teeth,' he argued.

'The challenge is to give the pill to the public without them thinking they are a patient.'

Once we have experience of the drug, it could be sold in supermarkets, said Sir Nicholas.

'But there is a danger that this could leave GPs 'out of the loop', he warned.

Kent MP and practising GP Dr Howard Stoate said: 'We need to improve the communication between GPs and pharmacists so that the GP is informed when a patient buys the polypill from a pharmacist.'

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

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