WASHINGTON — America’s biopharmaceutical research companies are developing 435 innovative new medicines to target 15 leading chronic conditions affecting the Medicare population, according to a new report released by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America last week.
These medicines in development — all either in clinical trials or under review by the Food and Drug Administration — are diverse in scope. They include:
- 110 for diabetes, which affects 10.9 million Americans age 65 and older;
- 62 for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, which affect 1.5 million and 27 million Americans respectively;
- 67 for Alzheimer’s disease, which could affect 15 million people in the United States by 2050 if no new medicines are found to prevent, delay or stop the progression of the disease;
- 61 for heart disease — heart failure, hypertension, ischemic heart disease and high cholesterol; and
- 40 for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which affects approximately 13 million adults, with the highest prevalence rate in those older than 65 years.
Today nearly 92% of older adults have at least one chronic condition, and 77% have at least two, according to the National Council on Aging.
“Treatment advances have led to significant progress against many chronic diseases, but challenges remain,” stated PhRMA president and CEO John Castellani. “The 435 medicines in the pipeline today offer incredible hope for aging patients and the sustainability of our healthcare system.”
According to NCOA, chronic diseases account for 75% of the money our nation spends on health care, with direct healthcare expenditures for chronic conditions in the United States totaling more than $262 billion in 2009. Among older Americans, 95% of healthcare costs are for chronic diseases, with the cost of providing health care for one person 65 or older being three to five times higher than the cost for someone younger than 65, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The new report conveys a variety of novel approaches to treat many of these disorders. Examples include:
- A potential new class of lipid-lowering treatments that would block a protein from interfering with the removal of LDL cholesterol from the blood;
- A medicine in development for heart failure that relaxes blood vessels and reduces fluid buildup, which could reduce damage to the heart and other vital organs related to the damage associated with heart failure;
- A next-generation, long-acting oral medicine to treat Type 2 diabetes that increases insulin secretion resulting in lower blood sugar levels, making it potentially a once-weekly versus daily treatment; and
- A potential first-in-class medicine for Alzheimer’s disease that inhibits beta-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme (BACE), that could reduce plaque formation and modify Alzheimer’s disease progression.