The PILL pilot trial (5)

For 12 weeks now, I’ve been taking a “polypill” each day as part of an international pilot trial for the treatment of people at raised risk of cardiovascular disease such as as heart attack or stroke. So this morning, I made my fifth and final visit to the International Centre for Circulatory Health at St Mary’s Hospital at Paddington in London.

For the last time, I had my blood pressure taken three times, a blood sample was taken, and I was weighed. Throughout the trial, I have not felt different at all. This either means that I have not experienced any side effects from the “polypill” or that I have been not taking the pill at all but a placebo. I won’t know till the results of the trial are published in Spring 2010.

Interestingly, I’m currently reading “Bad Science” by Ben Goldacre. He explains how the trials of medicines and treatments are conducted and the pilot trial in which I have participated has followed all the key principles, such as equal numbers of people being allocated on a random basis to take the pill or a placebo and ‘double-blinding’ where neither the person conducting the trial nor the person who is the subject of the trial knows whether the subject is taking the pill or the placebo.

All medicines approved for use in this country have to undergo such rigorous testing and yet so-called alternative and complementary medicines can be sold with amazing claims without any scientific testing.


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