New ‘super pill’ hailed as the future of hypertension treatment

Aug 30, 2021
A new pill can help control high blood pressure for millions of people. Source: Getty

A new four-in-one super pill for hypertension has proven to be more effective than any single drug treatment for lowering blood pressure on the market.

The pill, which contains quarter doses of four drugs — irbesartan, amlodipine, indapamide and bisoprolol — was used in a large scale study conducted by researchers at the University of Sydney. For the study, 600 people were given either the four-in-one pill or a single standard blood pressure drug (irbesartan).

Those who took the four-in-one pill significantly improved control of high blood pressure — the leading cause of heart attack and stroke.

The results of the study were published in The Lancet.

High blood pressure — also called hypertension — is the world’s leading killer but poor rates of blood pressure control remain common. The new strategy where patients are started on a pill containing four medicines, each at a quarter of their usual doses, has been shown to be much more effective in getting blood pressure under control, compared to the common practice of monotherapy, where treatment commences with just one drug.

The study’s findings are an important step in reducing the incidence of death and illness caused by high blood pressure. About one in three Australians have hypertension and according to an Australian Heart Foundation survey millions more are putting their health at risk by ignoring the potential dangers of the condition.

High blood pressure can lead to stroke, coronary heart disease, heart failure and chronic kidney disease and accounts for 5.8 per cent of the total burden of disease in Australia.

The study’s senior author Professor Anthony Rodgers of The George Institute, UNSW Sydney and Imperial College London, said: “Our trial has overwhelmingly demonstrated the efficacy, tolerability and safety of this ultra-low-dose combination strategy – a potentially simple and scalable hypertension management strategy to treat hypertension.”

Professor Clara Chow, lead and corresponding author and Director of the University of Sydney’s Westmead Applied Research Centre, said the research built on their previous study comparing a quadpill approach to placebo.

“We aimed to test this new quadpill strategy against usual care in Australia; as is often seen in clinical trials, people in the comparison group got much better treatment than average. Nonetheless our new quadpill strategy was much better,” she said.

“This was the first study to show the benefits are maintained long-term without any reduction over time. Even though much more add-on blood pressure medicines were used in the comparison group throughout follow-up, they never caught up with the quadpill group.”

While the study’s findings are a welcome development, Chow said the next step would be ensuring the pill was affordable and available to those who need it.

“These kinds of strategies will only make a major impact on global health if they are available and affordable for patients most in need,” she said.

“When we find treatments that are this effective, simple and safe we must do our best to get them to those who can benefit most.”

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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