When discussing progress associated with medical innovation, we like to mention both life-saving and life-enhancing medicines. Why? Because so many debilitating chronic conditions may not be life-threatening, but the patients who live with them still deserve the best that healthcare has to offer.
Yesterday, PhRMA released a survey
finding 198 medicines currently in development for arthritis
and other musculoskeletal disorders - the most common chronic health problem in the U.S., affecting in total more than 50 million patients in the U.S.
Patients with these conditions - our friends and neighbors - live each day in pain. That's why America's biopharmaceutical research companies take their responsibility to those patients as seriously as to those with life-threatening diseases.
It's why, for example, there are 67 medicines in development for rheumatoid arthritis, which affects 1.3 million adults in the U.S.; 23 medicines in development for osteoporosis, which affects 10 million people; and 19 medicines in development for lupus, which affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans - including my own aunt.
It's important to note, too, that these diseases affect more than the patients who suffer from them. They affect the families, loved ones, and caregivers as well: Arthritis is the number one cause of disability in the U.S.
The impact affects the healthcare system as a whole, too: each year, arthritis is responsible for 44 million outpatient doctor visits and nearly one million hospitalizations, and it costs the American economy nearly $128 billion annually in direct medical costs and indirect costs, such as lost wages and productivity.
We'll be coming back to this issue in the coming days and weeks, but for now, take a moment to look at the report and get a sense of just how varied the diseases are - and how much hope is in the pipeline.