Potential Societal Impact of Drugs to Treat Diseases of Aging
Rapid advances in the field of aging research in the past five years have prompted economists and epidemiologists to calculate the potential impact of drugs that broadly treat diseases of aging. A recent paper from RAND7 comparing several promising experimental therapies concluded that drugs that treated diseases of aging by mimicking CR would be the most cost effective, costing perhaps one-tenth as much per additional year of healthy life as more common medical interventions for specific diseases such as cancer, stroke, and heart disease (figure 3). Given the progress of clinical work on such drugs and the long list of reputable scientists who are backing that work, it is feasible that drugs that are broadly effective against diseases of aging could hit the market within the next decade. Success is by no means guaranteed, but it is worth pondering the remarkable fact that serious drug development has entered a space that was until recently the realm of science fiction.
Figure 3. Cost-benefit analysis of selected future therapies (adapted from Goldman et al., 2005 RAND study). The estimated cost per additional year of healthy life for drugs targeting diseases of aging, $8,790, is roughly one-half the cost of stroke treatment, one-tenth the cost of cardiac defibrillators, and one-fifteenth the cost of diabetes prevention.
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