Cheap drugs could save thousands of lives -- in Sweden alone

September 7, 2011, University of Gothenburg

A major new international study involving researchers from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg and Sahlgrenska University Hospital has revealed that aspirin, statins, beta blockers and ACE inhibitors are prescribed far too infrequently. They are cheap, preventive medicines that could prevent a huge number of deaths from heart attacks and strokes.

The result of a research collaboration between 17 countries, the study is being published in the highly revered medical journal The .

The study identifies aspirin, statins (cholesterol-lowering medication), beta blockers and as medicines that should be used far more widely.

"These are generic preparations where the patent has run out," says Annika Rosengren, professor of medicine at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg and consultant at Sahlgrenska University Hospital. "They are cheap, tried-and-tested and effective, and there is no good reason for failing to prescribe them far more often to patients who are in the risk zone. In Sweden alone they could have saved thousands of lives a year."

The results derive from a major international study involving more than 150,000 adults in low-, middle- and high-income countries around the world. Just a quarter of those who had suffered a or stroke had taken aspirin (or similar), only a fifth had taken , and just a seventh had taken medication to lower their cholesterol. The lowest figures came from low-income countries. The study also shows that women take these medicines less frequently than men.

"The results indicate a real need for a systematic drive to understand why such cheap drugs are under-used the world over," says professor Salim Yusuf at McMaster University in Canada, who headed up the study. "This is a global tragedy and represents a massive lost opportunity to help millions of people with cardiovascular disease at a very low cost."

The PURE study (Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology Study) covered 17 countries: Canada, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Malaysia, Poland, South Africa, Turkey, China, Colombia, Iran, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Zimbabwe.

Explore further: Huge gaps in use of simple, cheap and proven drugs worldwide

Related Stories

Huge gaps in use of simple, cheap and proven drugs worldwide

August 29, 2011
A global study in 17 countries led by McMaster University researchers has found too few patients are using drugs proven to give significant benefits in warding off a heart attack or stroke.

Recommended for you

Patients receive most opioids at the doctor's office, not the ER

January 16, 2018
Around the country, state legislatures and hospitals have tightened emergency room prescribing guidelines for opioids to curb the addiction epidemic, but a new USC study shows that approach diverts attention from the main ...

FDA bans use of opioid-containing cough meds by kids

January 12, 2018
(HealthDay)—Trying to put a dent in the ongoing opioid addiction crisis, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday slapped strict new restrictions on the use of opioid-containing cold and cough products by kids.

Taking ibuprofen for long periods found to alter human testicular physiology

January 9, 2018
A team of researchers from Denmark and France has found that taking regular doses of the pain reliever ibuprofen over a long period of time can lead to a disorder in men called compensated hypogonadism. In their paper published ...

Nearly one-third of Canadians have used opioids: study

January 9, 2018
Nearly one in three Canadians (29 percent) have used "some form of opioids" in the past five years, according to data released Tuesday as widespread fentanyl overdoses continue to kill.

Growing opioid epidemic forcing more children into foster care

January 8, 2018
The opioid epidemic has become so severe it's considered a national public health emergency. Addiction to prescription painkillers, such as oxycodone and morphine, has contributed to a dramatic rise in overdose deaths and ...

Price tag on gene therapy for rare form of blindness: $850K

January 3, 2018
A first-of-its kind genetic treatment for blindness will cost $850,000 per patient, making it one of the most expensive medicines in the world and raising questions about the affordability of a coming wave of similar gene-targeting ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.