Medicines hold Potential to Contain Costs of Chronic Diseases

Medicines hold Potential to Contain Costs of Chronic Diseases

03.21.11 | By

Our last blog post looked at the big picture of the value of cancer treatment advances.

Let's now look at the value medicines bring in treating other conditions. In the 1990s, an HIV/AIDS diagnosis was considered a death sentence. Today, it's a treatable chronic disease. The number of U.S. AIDS deaths has decreased dramatically following the introduction of highly active antitretroviral treatments and have continued to decline.

In addition to allowing patients to live longer, HIV patients - often in the prime of life - are able to remain productive for many years. University of Chicago economists report that the aggregate value of improved survival resulting from new medicines since the start of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and into the future is $1.4 trillion.

There is no doubt advancements in the treatment of this disease have been achieved, but a cure is not yet available. Biopharmaceutical research companies, however, continue to strive to reach that goal and currently are testing 100 medicines to further improve patients' lives.

Alzheimer's disease is an example of a disease area with vast future potential for improving lives and reducing costs. If new innovative treatments are not discovered, the disease will ravage families and could cost taxpayers trillions. However, the development of a new treatment that delays the onset of Alzheimer's by five years could reduce Medicare and Medicaid spending on patients with Alzheimer's by more than $100 billion in 2030, according to a study by the Alzheimer's Association.

Biopharmaceutical companies are currently developing over 100 medicines to treat Alzheimer's.

Similarly, Parkinson's is already costing society $27 billion per year in medical bills and lost wages. That figure is set to double by 2030, if a treatment is not discovered.

The progress achieved in HIV/AIDS - and the promise of new treatments for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's - demonstrate the great potential for medicines to improve lives and contain future health care costs. This industry is the key to making it happen.

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