WHO Includes Polypills on Essential Medicine List

Mark Huffman, MD, Professor of Medicine of Cardiology and Co-Director of the Global Health Center and Anubha Agarwal, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine of Cardiology and Co-Director Program in Global Cardiovascular Health announced that the WHO have included the Polypill on their Model List of essential medicines (EML). “Essential medicines are those that satisfy the priority health care needs of a population,” the report says. “They are intended to be available in functioning health systems at all times, in appropriate dosage forms, of assured quality and at prices individuals and health systems can afford.”

Using polypills to treat cardiovascular diseases and other conditions is now recommended for the first time in the guidelines. Polypills combine blood pressure medications, cholesterol lowering statins, medications to reduce heart beat force and aspirin is a way to treat heart issues.

Mark Huffman

“The inclusion of cardiovascular polypills in the 2023 Model List of Essential Medicines is a major policy change that can prevent millions of heart attacks and strokes over the coming decades. This application was our fourth attempt, and the science has really advanced over the past decade to show the benefits of polypills in diverse settings. We are glad that our persistence has paid off and are eager to contribute to dissemination, implementation, and scale-up.”

Mark Huffman, MD

Polypill Cardiovascular Medicines 

Fixed-dose combinations of multiple medicines (commonly called ‘polypills’) for the prevention of diseases of the heart and blood vessels, notably cholesterol-lowering agents with one or more blood pressure lowering agents with and without acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) have been added to the EML for the first time.  Based on recommendations by previous EML Expert Committees, scientists from multiple countries conducted milestone trials confirming the benefit of these combinations for both primary and secondary prevention of heart disease.


Wider availability of the polypill for prevention of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease paves the way forward for the development of new polypills, including a polypill for heart failure with reduced ejection fraction. We are excited to be leading efforts in developing, implementing, and evaluating a polypill implementation strategy for the treatment of patients with heart failure that has the potential to transform the heart failure care paradigm.”

Anubha Agarwal, MD