George Clinical welcomes the addition of fixed dose combinations (FDCs) of blood pressure (BP) lowering drugs to the World Health Organization (WHO) Essential Medicines List (EML) in response to an application filed by Resolve to Save Lives (RTSL), an initiative of vital strategies, The George Institute and other partners.

Adding FDCs of blood pressure lowering drugs to the EML is a critical step to improve the availability and affordability of such medications, making it easier for the more than 1 billion people with high blood pressure worldwide to regularly take the medicines they need to prevent early disability and death.  FDCs, which combine two or more BP lowering drugs that are commonly taken together into a single pill, have been proven to improve patients’ adherence to medication regimens and BP control rates. FDCs have important advantages for patients and health systems, including simpler dose schedules, decreased pill burden, and reduced lack of inventory, as well as easier task sharing, training, and supervision.

“High BP kills more people than all infectious diseases combined but there are safe, effective, generic, low-cost medications that can prevent many of these deaths,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of RTSL. “FDCs have played an important role in improving BP control rates in many countries, and their inclusion in the WHO EML will encourage all health systems to prioritize these life-saving drugs.”

Many countries use the WHO EML as a model and the listing of FDC BP lowering drugs in EML will promote broader global uptake. Resolve to Save Lives coordinated the application for BP lowering FDC’s inclusion in the 21st WHO EML with support from the Arnhold Institute for Global Health, The George Institute for Global Health, and the Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network.  Only one in every seven people who have high BP worldwide has it under control, even though high BP can be safely treated and managed with medication.

“A major reason for poor control of BP globally is that most patients require two or more drugs to control their BP, yet many only receive one. Lack of adherence to drug therapy is another major risk factor, and is worsened by increased number of drugs. FDCs have the potential to address these factors,” said Dr. Abdul Salam, Senior Research Fellow, The George Institute India.

Many leading global organizations support increasing access to FDCs of BP lowering medications, including the American Heart Association, European Society of Hypertension, International Society of Hypertension, Lancet Commission on Hypertension Group, Latin American Society on Hypertension, Resolve to Save Lives, World Heart Federation, World Hypertension League, and World Stroke Organization.