Medicines in Development for Older Americans

Medicines in Development for Older Americans

America’s biopharmaceutical research companies are developing 465 new medicines that target the 10 leading chronic conditions affecting seniors, according to a new report from PhRMA. Thesemedicines – all in human clinical trials or under review the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – are diverse in scope. They include:

  • 142 for diabetes, which affect 12.2 million Americans age 60 and older;
  • 92 for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, which affect 1.3 million Americans and up to 80 percent of people over age 80, respectively;
  • 82 for Alzheimer’s disease, which could afflict 8 million people in the U.S. by 2030 unless a treatment or preventative measure is found;
  • 48 for heart failure (affecting 5.7 million Americans) and ischemic heart disease; and
  • 40 for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which impacts more than 13 million adults, with the highest prevalence rate in those over age 65.

While these projects represent potential new treatment options for older Americans, they also reflect the continuum of knowledge and incremental gains inherent in the medicine discovery process. The gains that have been made over the past 20 years in the treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a devastating autoimmune disease that causes progressive joint deterioration and pain, show the impact treatment advances over time can play in improving the lives of millions of patients. A PhRMA-sponsored white paper authored by Boston Healthcare Associates, Inc., Recognizing the Value of Innovation in the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritisexplores the various ways in which additional clinical value — including improved outcomes and quality of life — has been realized over time for RA patients as our understanding of the underlying disease expands.

Similarly, many of the medicines in development for older Americans build on build on our growing knowledge and scientific progress to attack diseases in different ways. Among the potential medicines listed in the report are:

  • A treatment that aims to prevent or reverse progression of Alzheimer’s disease by using a human monoclonal antibody specifically designed to draw beta amyloid protein away from the brain through the blood system.
  • A medication that combines two long-acting drugs, allowing for once-daily dosing in COPD.
  • A potential first-in-class medicine to treat type 2 diabetes that increases insulin secretion without causing insulin to significantly lower blood sugar.
  • A medicine that recruits a patients’ own neural stem cells to repair or protect against damage to the central nervous system from stress hormones, which can lead to depression.

“The science behind these potential new medicines is mind-boggling, but the excitement and promise of new innovation is only part of the story,” said Castellani. “As a nation, we need to ensure that older Americans have broad access to the medicines they need to prevent and fight disease, and we must work with all stakeholders to help ensure that patients use medicines as prescribed by their doctors.”

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