Harvard Heart Letter

Coming soon: many drugs in one pill

Multidrug combinations may make medicines easier to swallow.

A new study provides strong support for the concept of a single pill that contains multiple medications used to fight heart disease. The idea stems from the decades-old practice of bundling two or three medications into one pill to treat a single disease, such as high blood pressure. The new combination pills put even more medicines into one pill. These medicines fight heart disease directly as well as indirectly by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Many doctors have been skeptical of packaging multiple medications into one pill, yet two prior studies have provided support for the concept in reducing heart disease.

The newest study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in November 2012, may help change some minds. The Use of a Multidrug Pill in Reducing Cardiovascular Events (UMPIRE) trial found that people who took a pill containing two blood pressure medications, a cholesterol-lowering statin, and aspirin were 33% more likely to take their medications every day than those prescribed the same drugs in separate pills. As a result, their blood pressure and cholesterol were better controlled.

Combination pill tested

Combination pill tested

hydrochlorothiazide (12.5 mg) and lisinopril (10 mg)

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