MANILA, May 27, 2004  (STAR) Post-election days can worsen hypertension, figuratively and literally.

Figuratively, just watching the candidates accusing each other of massive cheating only two days after people cast their votes is enough to make the blood pressure of people shot up. Conflicting claims on who is ahead on which surveys do not make the situation better.

These events have serious impact. The unstable political climate often gives rise to peso devaluation which triggers price increase on all commodities, medicines included.

This is how election worsens hypertension literally, since the high prices of medicines often result in treatment non-compliance on the part of hypertensive patients, causing their condition to worsen.

According to a survey done by ISIS Philippines in 2002, one of the biggest challenges in managing hypertension is the cost of medicines.

The survey revealed that majority of the patients who cannot afford to buy their medicines simply stop taking them.

Treatment sustainability is important because clinical studies show that patients with hypertension need to take an antihypertensive medication once a day in order to keep their blood pressure at bay.

Failure to do so may result in serious complications such as heart attack or stroke. Hypertensive patients are three times more likely to have a stroke and three times more likely to develop coronary heart disease.

With this scenario, the introduction of an affordable felodipine provides a ray of hope for patients. Felodipine is one of the most prescribed medicines for hypertension.

Several landmark clinical studies, such as the Hypertension Optimal Treatment (HOT) study done by Hansson et al., have shown that a felodipine-based treatment regimen helps achieve optimal blood pressure target levels which translate into a lower incidence of cardiovascular complications such as heart attacks and strokes.

The new brand of felodipine, which costs approximately 50-percent less than the leading brand, is described to be a pharmacoeconomic drug since it is an effective and safe drug which is bioequivalent to the innovator product.

Bioequivalence is the test to assess the absorption and availability of a product in the blood and in its site of action, compared to a reference drug, usually the innovator product.

If a new drug preparation is bioequivalent and is as effective as the reference drug but is lower in cost, it is said to be more cost-effective or pharmacoeconomic.

By promoting the concept of bioequivalence, the misconception of the public and even by some doctors that expensive medicines are generally better than the lower priced ones will be erased.

The introduction of an affordable felodipine will improve hypertension management, especially in a country where hypertension remains to be the most prevalent risk factor of cardiovascular diseases.

Most importantly, it will make treatment sustainability within the reach of Filipinos, rich and poor alike. (PhilStar Business Feature, Science and Technology)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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