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Showing posts from March, 2009

The polypill: Medicine's magic bullet

The capsule costs pennies, contains a simple cocktail of medicines, and halves the number of strokes and heart attacks. Doctors want to hand it out in the first mass medication for the middle-aged in Britain. So why are the big drug companies so uninterested?

The magic bullet, containing five medicines in a single capsule, sharply reduced cholesterol and blood pressure levels and has the potential to "halve cardiovascular events in average middle-aged individuals", the researchers say.

The finding is a major boost for a medication with huge potential against the worldwide epidemic of heart disease and stroke. Doctors say that, if further trials prove successful, all men aged over 50 and women aged over 60 should be offered the pill in what would be the first example of mass medication for the middle-aged in Britain.

Yet no Western pharmaceutical company has shown interest in developing the so-called polypill because it does not promise big profits. It would sell for pennies bec…