Press Release

Nearly 300 Medicines to Treat Two Leading Causes of Death

PhRMA May 2, 2013

Washington, D.C. (February 1, 2011) — Drug discoveries played a major role in reducing American deaths from heart attacks and stroke by 28% between 1997 and 2007, yet cardiovascular disease still claims an American life every 39 seconds.

Working to reduce the toll further, America’s biopharmaceutical research companies are developing 299 medicines to prevent and treat heart disease and stroke, according to a new report released by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

The report, released on the first day of American Heart Month, demonstrates the wide range of medicines in development for cardiovascular disease. All medicines referenced are in clinical trials or awaiting Food & Drug Administration (FDA) review.

“Medicines developed for cardiovascular health over the last three decades are in large measure responsible for preventing more than a million American deaths a year,” said PhRMA President and CEO John J. Castellani. “We have made and continue to make great progress in treating cardiovascular disease, [related video] but we also urge all Americans to take every precaution available to prevent it.”

Medicines currently being studied are aimed both at preventing cardiovascular disease and treating the symptoms of those who already suffer from it.

Cutting-edge research includes a medicine that uses human stem cells to form new heart muscle, a gene therapy that uses a patient’s own cells to treat heart failure and a new anticoagulant to prevent deep vein thrombosis. Congenital heart disorders are also among the targets being researched.

Although cardiovascular disease is a major problem for men and women and for all races, women and minorities suffer disproportionately. Nearly 38 million American men and more than 42 million American women have cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Although only 13 percent of American women know it, cardiovascular disease is their number one killer. On Feb. 27, AHA will sponsor National Wear Red Day to alert women to their special risks.

African Americans in particular suffer disproportionately. With the highest prevalence of high blood pressure in the world, African Americans suffer a 1.8 times greater rate of fatal stroke than other Americans and a 1.5 times greater rate of heart disease death.

Awareness and adherence to prescribed therapies are potential lifesavers, since many people can reduce their odds of heart attack and stroke by leading healthy lifestyles and, when necessary, taking medication to control high blood pressure and cholesterol. For example, only 48% of Americans with high blood pressure are aware of the condition and have it under control.

“We know that people who have been diagnosed with this disease and do not take their medications as prescribed are almost five times more likely to suffer from a heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, dementia, or premature death,” added Ralph Brindis, M.D., President of the American College of Cardiology. “In order to maximize the potential of advancing science and newly developed drugs, we must continue identifying strategies that successfully help patients follow their treatment plans. This effort in itself has the potential to significantly improve the quality of care for cardiovascular disease and save another million lives every year.”

Prevention and treatment also can help control related healthcare costs. Last year, cardiovascular disease cost American society more than $503 billion, including treatment for those who have survived heart attacks and strokes. Moreover, the cost of treating heart disease is expected to triple in the next 20 years, due in large measure to the aging of America, according to a recent AHA report.


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 $45.8 billion in 2009 in discovering and developing new medicines. Industry-wide research and investment reached a record $65.3 billion in 2009.

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