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Fighting for Health: Older Americans

America’s biopharmaceutical research companies are developing 435 innovative new medicines to target 15 leading chronic conditions affecting the Medicare population.

As life expectancy continues to climb -- up to more than 81 years for women and 76 years for men -- the growing number of Americans age 65 and older will face new challenges from chronic conditions.

These conditions, such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, impact health, productivity and independence. Not only do they impact the individuals living with them, but burden their families and cost the health care system billions of dollars. With the aging population and life expectancy climbing, higher rates of chronic diseases remain a major challenge for our health care system. Tremendous advances in medical science, combined with the benefits of lifestyle changes, have allowed more individuals to continue living their lives with one or more chronic illnesses. Today nearly 92 percent of older adults have at least one chronic condition, and 77 percent have at least two, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA).

Furthermore, nearly 54 million adults in the United States have either osteoporosis or low bone density. As the aging population increases in the United States, the incidence of osteoporosis is expected to rise as well. By 2025, it is predicted that osteoporosis will cause about three million bone fractures and cost the health care system more than $25 billion each year. However, new research is turning our old understanding of osteoporosis on its head and there is hope that these advances in science will lead to game-changing osteoporosis treatments. Today, biopharmaceutical research companies are developing nine medicines for the treatment of osteoporosis.

49.4 Million Americans are Medicare Beneficiaries

There are about 49.4 million Medicare beneficiaries – that’s 16% of all Americans. The most common chronic conditions in Medicare beneficiaries are high blood pressure (58%), high cholesterol (45%), heart disease (31%), arthritis (29%), and diabetes (28%).

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Better Outcomes through Adherence

Non-adherence to medicines costs the U.S. economy up to $300 billion annually. Research has shown that better and continued use of medicines as prescribed lead to better health outcomes. For example, improved adherence to medication among diabetes patients could prevent more than 1 million emergency department visits and hospitalizations annually, potentially saving $8.3 billion each year.

Five Things You Might Not Know About Medicare Part D

Medicare Part D provides nearly 40 million seniors and individuals with disabilities with affordable access to prescription drug coverage, while helping to control costs. Here are five things you might not know about this important program.


New Medicines Have Been Approved by the FDA in the Last Decade

Life expectancy has increased by a full decade since 1950, and the death rate has fallen by 60 percent in the last 75 years. Between 1979 and 2011, death rates from cardiovascular disease fell more than 55 percent. The CDC cites factors such as better control of risk factors, early detection, and better treatment and care, as well as new drugs and expanded use of existing drugs.

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Medicare Part D

Now in its ninth year, Medicare Part D continues to exceed expectations, and costs $350 billion less than initially expected. Ninety percent Part D enrollees are satisfied with their coverage. Programs such as Medicare Part D help ensure that seniors have access to the medicines they need to prevent, manage and treat disease.

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77% of older Americans have at least two chronic conditions and nearly 92% of older Americans have at least one chronic condition. Four chronic conditions -- heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes -- cause almost two thirds of all deaths each year. Additionally, today, about 20% of people age 50 and older who suffer a hip fracture due to osteoporosis die within one year of the break.

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Medicines in the Pipeline

America’s biopharmaceutical research companies currently are developing 435 innovative new medicines to target 15 leading chronic conditions affecting the Medicare population. These medicines in development – all either in clinical trials or under review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – include 110 for diabetes, 62 for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, 67 for Alzheimer’s disease, 61 for heart disease and 40 for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Additionally, biopharmaceutical research companies are developing nine medicines for the treatment of osteoporosis.

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Related Medicines

  • Oral medicine for Osteoporosis

    An oral medicine in development that selectively inhibits cathepsin K, the primary enzyme on osteoclasts that digests proteins during bone resorption. Osteoclasts are cells that resorb bone and secrete signaling factors to stimulate osteoblasts, cells that form bone. Abnormal cathepsin activity may be involved in multiple bone disorders including osteoporosis.

  • Next-Generation Oral Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes

    A medicine in development for the treatment of type 2 diabetes is part of the dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP-4) inhibitor class, with properties distinct from other approved medicines in this class. DPP-4 inhibitors work by stimulating the secretion of insulin and decreasing the release of glucagon (a hormone produced in the pancreas), ultimately reducing blood glucose levels. In clinical trials, the medicine was able to inhibit more than 80 percent of DPP-4 for seven days, making it potentially a once-weekly versus daily treatment.

  • Blocking a Protein to Lower LDL Cholesterol

    Several monoclonal antibodies in development represent a potential new class of lipid-lowering treatments. The potential medicines inhibit a protein that targets low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors on the surface of the liver. When that protein interacts with LDL receptors, it promotes degradation of the receptor, ultimately, interfering with the clearing of LDLC (LDL cholesterol) from the blood. By blocking the protein from interacting with the receptor, more LDL receptors are available on the surface of liver cells to remove LDL-C from the blood.

  • Inhibiting Beta-Amyloid Production in Alzheimer’s Disease

    A potential fi rst-in-class medicine inhibits betasite amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme (BACE), an enzyme involved in the production of beta-amyloid peptide. Beta-amyloid is believed to be involved in Alzheimer’s disease