News & AnalysisPUBLIC HEALTH

Experts Debate Polypill: A Single Pill for Global Health

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Science  30 Sep 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6051, pp. 1813
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6051.1813

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In the past year, the idea of a "polypill" combining several cheap, well-tested heart drugs has gained momentum, although it still has its critics. Pharmaceutical companies represented at the United Nations High-level Meeting on Non-communicable Diseases last week discussed it as a possible preventative measure in the developing world, where cardiovascular disease rates are now similar to those in the Western world. The polypill, its advocates argue, could supplement exercise and a healthy diet in preventing heart disease. But some question whether a pop-a-pill mentality should be encouraged, and many cardiologists are sharply critical of the potential risks inherent in one-size-fits-all treatment of patients who are not at risk.