A heart drug that combines three medications in one pill — otherwise known as a polypill — has been included in the List of Essential Medicines from the World Health Organization (WHO).
The unique polypill is designed for those who have had a prior heart attack or other heart-related event, with the goal of preventing a repeat occurrence. It took 15 years of intense study and several versions to create it.
The List of Essential Medications are those that meet the population’s "priority health care needs" and can save lives, improve health and decrease suffering, according to the WHO’s website.
"This cardiovascular polypill could become an integral part of global strategies to prevent cardiovascular events in patients who have suffered a heart attack and who are currently already being treated with separate mono-components," said Valentin Fuster, M.D., PhD, president of Mount Sinai Heart and physician-in-chief of The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, in a news release.
"This approach has the potential to reduce the risk of recurrent disease and cardiovascular death," he added.
WHO selects the essential drugs based on the relevance to public health, prevalence of disease, evidence of clinical efficacy and safety, and comparative costs and cost-effectiveness, according to the global health organization’s website.
"This really, I think, is a change in medicine," Fuster, who is also general director of the Spanish National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC), which spearheaded the research, told Fox News Digital in an interview.
"The inclusion of this therapeutic solution in the WHO's List of Essential Medicines confirms our aim to make a positive impact in society and is an important step in our mission to bring significant and differential value to people with cardiovascular disease," Oscar Pérez, chief marketing and business development officer at Ferrer, a Spain-based pharmaceutical company involved in the polypill research, said in a news release.
The polypill contains three medications that are typically used to treat patients after they suffer their first heart attack, as Fox News Digital previously reported.
Researchers found it to be effective in preventing secondary adverse cardiovascular events in those who have previously had a cardiac event, according to the SECURE trial led by Fuster that was published in The New England Journal of Medicine in August 2022.
The polypill also reduced cardiovascular mortality by 33% among patients who had previous heart attacks, the study found.
"The SECURE results showed for the first time that the cardiovascular polypill that we helped develop led to clinically relevant reductions in recurrent cardiovascular events in patients who had suffered a myocardial infarction," Fuster said in the release.
The three drugs contained in the polypill include acetylsalicylic acid, which helps thin the blood to prevent blood clots; ramipril, an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor that lowers blood pressure; and a cholesterol-lowering drug called atorvastatin, according to Fuster.
A patient is less likely to take the three separate pills on a daily basis, Fuster said, which increases the risk for another cardiovascular event.
The polypill helps patients remain compliant with taking the prescribed medications because it is only one pill.
Fuster’s research team found that the polypill was also just as effective as the separate pill regimen commonly given to patients after a heart attack.
"Adherence to treatment after an acute myocardial infarction is essential for effective secondary prevention," he told Fox News Digital.
"This cardiovascular polypill, as a strategy that combines three of the baseline treatments for these patients, has proven its value, because increased adherence means that patients are being treated for longer and, as a result, have a lower risk of cardiovascular events," Fuster noted in the release.
It took 15 years of intense study and several versions to develop this polypill, Fuster told Fox News Digital.
It is sold under the brand names Trinomia, Sincronium and Iltria, depending on the country.
"The 3% reduction in cardiovascular mortality demonstrates the efficacy of treatment with Trinomia compared to standard treatment," Ferrer’s Perez said in the report.
The polypill is commercially available right now in 25 countries, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet cleared it for use in the U.S.
"Since our groundbreaking study was published, we have seen an increase in polypill usage across the world, and we are looking forward to having this medicine available in the United States and the rest of the countries where it is not available yet," Fuster said.
Each year in the United States, 805,000 people suffer a heart attack.
Among those individuals, 200,000 previously had a cardiac event, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).