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New Drugs Work

Health economists long thought that advances in medicine have modest effects on life expectancy. But a study of longevity in 52 countries found that new drugs (not including reformulations of drugs already on the market) accounted for 40 percent of the almost two-year increase in average life expectancy between 1986 and 2000. Though circulatory diseases accounted for half of disease-related deaths, drugs targeting the cardiovascular system made up only 14 percent of new drug launches.

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