One size fits all: column

Wonder drugs are rare. Applying the criteria of effectiveness, usefulness and cost, I’d put paracetamol, morphine and penicillin high on my list. The number one position, however, would go to aspirin. Not only is it good for pain relief, as an anti-inflammatory and to reduce fever, it also works as a blood-thinning agent, to decrease the stickiness of platelets and reduce blood-clotting.

A few years ago two researchers argued that what we really needed was a “polypill”. This, a tablet containing several drugs which could be given to many people at low cost, was to be the mother of all wonder drugs. The researchers who proposed it, and who are now studying it, are Nicholas Wald and Malcolm Law from London’s Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine.

They set out a brave vision for their creation in the British Medical Journal in 2003: “The polypill strategy could largely prevent heart attacks and stroke if taken by everyone aged 55 and older and everyone with existing cardiovascular disease. It would be acceptably safe and with widespread use would have a greater impact on the prevention of disease in the western world than any other single intervention”

The remainder of the article can be read here.

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