Commercial consideration in medicine is a trend to be opposed
Rodgers correctly writes in praise of the extensive analysis done by
Wald and Law in support of their concept that a combination of aspirin,
statin, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, beta-blocker, diuretic
and folic acid can significantly reduce cardiovascular disease (1,2,3,4).
Given that all these drugs are available in their generic forms, the
potential availability of an effective and inexpensive treatment to combat
the scourge of cardiovascular disease would be most welcomed.
It is thus disappointing to note that patents have been filed by the
authors for the proposed polypill. This can only have the effect of
increasing medical costs with the result that some who would benefit will
not be able to afford the treatment. Commercial consideration seems to
have penetrated the highest halls of British medical academia. How many
less would have been saved had Fleming filed a patent for penicillin?
Dr H T Ong FRCP (Edin, Glasg)
H T Ong Heart Clinic,
251C Burma Road,
1. Anthony Rodgers. A Cure for Cardiovascular Disease? Combination
Treatment has Enormous Potential, Especially in Developing Countries. BMJ
2. Wald NJ, Law MR. A Strategy to Reduce Cardiovascular Disease by more
than 80%. BMJ 2003; 326:1419-23.
3. Law MR, Wald, NJ, Rudnicka, AR. Quantifying Effect of Statins on Low
Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol, Ishaemic Heart Disease, and Stroke:
Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. BMJ 2003; 326:1423-27.
4. Law MR, Wald NJ, Morris JK, Jordan RE. Value of Low Dose Combination
Treatment with Blood Pressure Lowering Drugs: Analysis of 354 Randomised
Trials. BMJ 2003; 326:1427-31.
Competing interests: No competing interests