On Sunday there was a report that npower has signed up to a scheme  offering employees daily doses of  “polypills”.

These tablets contain a combination of small doses of medication usually given (on prescription) to those suffering from hypertension.  These are given in the belief that they will prevent strokes and heart attacks!

It is reported that more than 100 healthy employees have signed up for the project, which costs them £180  each a year. 

All these drugs have potential side effects and it seems to be a crazy idea to me. I wonder how much monitoring there is of those taking them. Do they regularly monitor them? It does not sound as though they do as the tablets are sent out by post every six weeks.

I would have several concerns. 1)What happens if the blood pressure drops  to unnaturally low levels.

                                                                 2)Are their GPs informed, or are there dangers that a conflicting drug may be prescribed for a real disease?

                                                                 3)Do these people think they are quite safe from strokes etc. and will they ignore any warning symptoms?

                                                                 4)Have they tried giving advice on low salt , balanced diet and exercise etc? or do they think they can take a “magic pill” and carry on with their former lifestyle now that they are “protected”

It is interesting to note that these pills have been developed at the Wolfson Institute for preventative medicine which receives funding from several of the major pharmaceutical companies!

These pills are not licensed in the UK yet, so Dr David Wald (he and his father developed these pills) prescribes the individual components separately to each npower worker following an assessment. They are prescribed to those over 55 years old as they are “at risk” of strokes and heart attacks. Will these “at risk”  workers still go to their GP to have their BP checked?

What comes next, small doses of insulin in case they develop diabetes?, alzheimer drugs for the over 60s, antiviral drugs for the sexually active?

This idea seems as sound as the handing out of Tamiflu to those who ticked the right boxes when they called the ‘flu line. There are many anecdotal stories about people getting a supply “in case”, and anyone who has had any experience in general practice will know that many of the general public call a bad cold ‘flu, but did the operatives in the call centres have this experience?

It seems that, in spite of the huge advances in medical science, we have not progressed far from the days of the snake oil salesmen at the fairs!