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The polypill: addressing cardiovascular risk in Indigenous people

The George Institute and partner institutes are planning a clinical trial involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at high risk of cardiovascular disease. The study will assess whether a single, combination polypill (containing aspirin, a cholesterol-lowering medicine and two blood pressure lowering medicines) will result in better patient acceptability and adherence, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels when compared with standard care.

Fixed-dose combination therapy with a polypill is simply a new way of providing these guideline-indicated medications and represents a major new opportunity to address cardiovascular care. It has been proposed that a polypill could improve adherence to recommended treatment by reducing the overall complexity of dosing regimens for doctors and patients, and improve access to treatment by reducing costs.

The Kanyini polypill trial will rigorously test these assumptions. Improving access to effective cardiovascular medications has considerable potential to improve population health, and in particular, to help reduce variations in this gap relating to inequities in health care access within the Australian population.

The George Institute, the Baker IDI and Monash University are working with several partners in urban, rural and remote areas of Australia. This study will involve 600 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and 400 others. Currently nine Aboriginal Medical Services and several mainstream general practices are on board, and recruitment is due to begin December 2009.