The aim of the present study was to estimate the cost-effectiveness of the polypill in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.
A health economic modelling study.
Primary healthcare in the Netherlands.
Simulated individuals from the general Dutch population, aged 45–75 years.
Opportunistic screening followed by prescription of the polypill to eligible individuals. Eligibility was defined as having a minimum 10-year risk of cardiovascular death as assessed with the Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation function of alternatively 5%, 7.5% or 10%. Different versions of the polypill were considered, depending on composition: (1) the Indian polycap, with three different types of blood pressure-lowering drugs, a statin and aspirin; (2) as (1) but without aspirin and (3) as (2) but with a double statin dose. In addition, a scenario of (targeted) separate antihypertensive and/or statin medication was simulated.
Primary outcome measures
Cases of acute myocardial infarction or stroke prevented, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) gained and the costs per QALY gained. All interventions were compared with usual care.
All scenarios were cost-effective with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio between €7900 and 12 300 per QALY compared with usual care. Most health gains were achieved with the polypill without aspirin and containing a double dose of statins. With a 10-year risk of 7.5% as the threshold, this pill would prevent approximately 3.5% of all cardiovascular events.
Opportunistic screening based on global cardiovascular risk assessment followed by polypill prescription to those with increased risk offers a cost-effective strategy. Most health gain is achieved by the polypill without aspirin and a double statin dose.
Cardiovascular diseases continue to be still a major, partly preventable, cause of illness and death.
A polypill that lowers by targeting several risk factors simultaneously is in line with the concept that the aim in primary prevention should be to bring down ‘global’ cardiovascular risk.
The aim of this study was to estimate the potential cost-effectiveness of polypill prescription after opportunistic screening.
The results of this study suggest that opportunistic screening and offering a polypill to people with a minimum 10-year risk of cardiovascular mortality of alternatively 5%, 7.5% or 10% is a cost-effective strategy.
A polypill without aspirin but with a double dose of simvastatin leads to most health gains at all risk thresholds considered. At a 10-year risk of cardiovascular death of ≥7.5%, such a strategy would lead to an estimated decrease in the incidence of myocardial infarction and stroke of about 3.5%, at a cost of €8900 per quality-adjusted life year.
Opportunistic screening of the population of ≥40 years to select individuals with a mild to moderately increased risk for cardiovascular diseases, followed by polypill prescription would prevent approximately 3.5% of all cardiovascular events.
Strengths and limitations of this study
Strong point of the study is that different compositions of the polypill have been modelled. Also, realistic estimates for adherence and compliance have been used.
As only preliminary results of a phase II clinical trial on efficacy of the polypill were available, we had to apply mathematical modelling to estimate cost-effectiveness. This provides insight into the range of health benefits that can be expected. Pending results with regard to established clinical endpoints from large-scale phase III trials, the results of this study should not be taken as a precise estimate of the cost-effectiveness of the polypill.