The Dr Reddy's Laboratories (DRL), a leading Indian pharmaceutical firm, says it is conducting the first-ever clinical trials for an all-in-one polypill for heart problems on 250 patients in the country. According to Raghu Cidambi of DRL, "We hope to put it in the market by the end of this year."
The proposed polypill will contain drugs for dilating arteries, relaxing heart muscles, removing excess water and salts, preventing clot formation, and reducing "bad" cholesterol.
The subjects of the trial have all already suffered a cardiac event. The trial is for establishing whether the polypill can prevent recurrence of cardiac problems.
Though a polypill was first suggested by two British scientists in 2003, this is the first time such a drug is being tested anywhere in the world on human subjects.
If the trials succeed, the polypill may have a worldwide market. Every year, over 17.5 million persons die due to heart diseases all over the world. India has the dubious distinction of having the largest share - over 1.5 million.
By 2010, India is projected to have 60% of the world's heart patients fuelled by risky lifestyles — which include junk food, lack of exercise and smoking — and the increasing number of elderly people.
The DRL is hoping to open up yet another vista. Even those who have not suffered an attack or a stroke could take the polypill if they think that they are liable to fall victim to cardio-vascular diseases.
Clinical trials to establish that aspect of the drug would start after necessary permission is granted by the Drug Controller of India.
However experts say such one-size-fits-all approach may not work. They note that dosage may vary from person to person.
Besides it could make people complacent about risk factors like smoking, diet, stress and exercise, they caution.