Author Interviews, Heart Disease / 06.05.2015 Interview with: Hueiming Liu | BA (Hons), MBBS, MIPH Research Fellow, Renal & Metabolic Division The George Institute for Global Health NSW Australia Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Liu: Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide and is projected to be the leading cause of death in 2030. A major part of the problem is large treatment gaps globally. Cardiovascular polypills which are fixed dose combinations of frequently indicated cardiovascular medications for high risk primary prevention and secondary prevention have been trialled internationally to improve provider prescribing and patient medication use. Encouragingly, recent results from randomised controlled trials have shown effectiveness in improving adherence.   This study is part of a process evaluation of a pragmatic randomised, controlled trial evaluating a polypill-based strategy for high-risk primary and secondary cardiovascular disease prevention in Australian primary health care. The trial results showed that “ After a median of 18 months, the polypill-based strategy was associated with greater use of combination treatment (70% vs. 47%; relative risk 1.49, (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.30 to 1.72) p < 0.0001; number needed to treat = 4.4 (3.3 to 6.6)) without differences in systolic blood pressure (-1.5 mmHg (95% CI -4.0 to 1.0) p = 0.24) or total cholesterol (0.08 mmol/l (95% CI -0.06 to 0.22) p = 0.26).” Ultimately, the trial was underpowered for clinical outcomes, but in a separate meta-analysis that included 2 other trials using a near identical protocol in other countries, the polypill strategy was associated with significant reductions in blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. A within-trial cost analysis of polypill-based care versus usual care with separate medications showed a statistically significantly lower mean pharmaceutical expenditure and thus potential cost savings to tax payers and the Australian government should the polypill strategy be introduced. In this qualitative study, we explored health provider and patient attitudes towards the use of a cardiovascular polypill as a health service strategy to improve cardiovascular prevention in Australia through in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 47 health providers and 47 patients involved in the trial. (more…)