Drugs for the Aging

Published January 1, 2003

As the population of seniors continues to grow, America’s pharmaceutical companies are investing billions of dollars in research to ensure we will live longer and healthier lives.

A new survey found more than 800 medicines are currently in development for diseases related to aging, including 123 for heart disease and stroke, 395 for cancer, and 309 for debilitating diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

Some of these drugs include:

  • 18 for Alzheimer’s, which will afflict 14 million Americans by the middle of this century unless a cure or prevention is found.
  • 18 for depression, which afflicts as estimated 7 million folks age 65 and older–or 1 of every 5.
  • 34 for diabetes, which costs about $132 billion a year in direct medical expenses, lost productivity, and disability.
  • 17 for osteoporosis, a major health threat for an estimated 44 million Americans age 50 and older.
  • 15 for Parkinson’s disease, with 60,000 new cases diagnosed every year.

The medicines being developed offer hope of continuing and accelerating the improvements in the life expectancy achieved over the past 20 years.

The promise of research underscores the need for a workable prescription drug benefit in the Medicare program–a benefit that provides affordable access and incentives for the continuing investment in the medicines of tomorrow.

Detailed information can be found at http://www.phrma.org.

IT’S YOUR HEALTH is written by Conrad Meier, senior fellow in health policy at The Heartland Institute. This program is produced as a public service by Radio America. Meier passed away unexpectedly on March 18, 2005.