Trials begin this week in London on a cheap "polypill" that could cut heart attack and stroke deaths in half worldwide, the Guardian reports. The pill combines four drugs—aspirin, a cholesterol-lowering statin, an ACE inhibitor, and thiazine to battle high blood pressure. The aim is to sell it—for about $1 a month—over the counter at pharmacies in the developing world, where cardiovascular disease is soaring.
Funding the long-envisioned polypill has been difficult because it offers little opportunity for drug-company profit. “We spent a few years trying to persuade a number of companies to do this, but got nowhere. A pill with established medicines that halved cardiovascular risk and could be available for £20 a year could be seen as a threat,” said a researcher. The so-called Red Heart pill has been manufactured by an Indian drug company for the two UK organizations backing the trials.