NBC goes nuts over Polypill

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NBC said it “could be the magic bullet for preventing heart disease and strokes.” They threw up a “BREAKING NEWS” banner even though they acknowledged that each of the five pills in the “polypill” has been “around for a long time.”

[2017 Update: The video is no longer available but the transcript can be found HERE ]

The anchor called it “really big.” The NBC medical editor called it “very cool.” Then the anchor amplified by calling it “very promising.”

We call their hyperbole “very premature.”

The story contained none of the caveats contained in an AP story, which concluded:

“It won’t be for everybody,” (one expert) said. Some people would be overtreated by getting medicines for conditions they don’t yet have, such as high cholesterol. Others may be undertreated by too-low doses in the combo pill. Several polypills of different strengths may be needed, he said.

“We have to be cautious about assuming that one size fits all,” (another expert) said. “Treating risk factors is a lot like cooking — the ingredients count.”

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John Butler

April 1, 2009 at 8:57 pm

Docs have joked that population health would be improved if we put a little aspirin, ace inhibitor, betablocker and statin in the water…but pharmaceutical companies are actually doing it- by re-packaging old stuff to create a new marketing sensation.
A blogger says his cholesterol is 300- but he can’t remember to take his pills and is thrilled by the polypill- just the wrong response!
Very disappointing to hear a medical editor talk so favorably- with no supporting evidence.
Unfortunate media response- this is not news.