Record Number of New Medicines for Heart Disease and Stroke Now in Development

Record Number of New Medicines for Heart Disease and Stroke Now in Development

Washington DC (February 26, 2009) — A record number of potential medicines to treat heart disease and stroke are being developed, according to the latest report by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) on medicines in the research pipeline. Over 300 new medicines to treat these diseases currently are being tested in human clinical trials or are awaiting approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, compared to 146 medicines in development for these diseases in 2005. Heart disease and stroke are two of the country’s top killers.

“The medicines now in the research pipeline will add to the substantial progress made by America’s pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies in developing new and more effective treatments for these diseases,” says PhRMA President & CEO Billy Tauzin. “This strong commitment to research is a product of the determination of the researchers and scientists working to develop new medicines that enable patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives.”

The U.S. leads the world in discovering and developing new medicines, with more R&D of new medicines taking place in the U.S. than in any other country. The U.S. accounts for three quarters of the world’s biotechnology revenues and research and development spending, and the biopharmaceutical research industry contributes $27 billion to the GDP annually.

At the news briefing today for the release of the report, Olympic gold medalist and swimmer Mark Spitz described how he discovered, at age 38, that he had high cholesterol and was at risk for developing heart disease. Considered one of the most dominant Olympic athletes ever, Spitz earned a total of 11 medals, including a record-breaking seven Gold Medals at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Today, Spitz is an advocate for cholesterol testing and heart health, spurred by his personal battle.

“I realized that I had to get the message out that regardless of how healthy you think you are, you may be walking around with this silent killer. I was surprised that this could happen to me—after all, I've worked out my whole life. But heart disease and stroke can strike anyone,” said Spitz.

Medicines now in the research pipeline for heart disease and stroke include 36 for high blood pressure, 33 for heart failure, 16 for heart attacks, and 22 for stroke. Many of the potential medicines use cutting-edge technologies and new approaches such as one that uses human stem cells to form new heart muscle and restore cardiac functioning, and another that is a gene therapy that uses a patient’s own cells to treat heart failure.

According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease accounted for over a third (34.2 percent) of all deaths in 2006, or one of every 2.9 deaths in the U.S. On average, every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke.

The development of effective medicines that control blood pressure and cholesterol has significantly helped cut deaths from heart disease. According to a 2008 report by the American Heart Association, death rates for cardiovascular disease fell a dramatic 26.4 percent between 1999 and 2005.

“Pharmaceutical and biotechnology researchers are making exciting progress, but it is wasted if medicines don’t get to the patients who need them,” says PhRMA Senior Vice President Ken Johnson. “That is particularly true in these hard economic times with people losing their jobs and health insurance.”

Help is available to patients in need through the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA). A clearinghouse for more than 475 patient assistance programs, PPA is sponsored by America’s pharmaceutical research companies and has helped more than 5.5 million patients nationwide (contact 1-888-4PPA-NOW or www.pparx.org).


The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. PhRMA companies are leading the way in the search for new cures. PhRMA members alone invested an estimated $44.5 billion in 2007 in discovering and developing new medicines. Industry-wide research and investment reached a record $58.8 billion in 2007.

PhRMA Internet Address: www.phrma.org

For information on stories of hope and survival, visit: http://sharingmiracles.com/

PhRMA en Español: www.nuestraphrma.org

For information on how innovative medicines save lives, visit: www.innovation.org

For information on the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, visit: www.pparx.org

For information on the danger of imported drugs, visit: www.buysafedrugs.info

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