Drug makers ramp up treatments for chronic conditions in the elderly, PhRMA report finds

WASHINGTON — More than 400 drugs are under development for the 10 most common chronic health conditions affecting elderly people, according to a new report by a drug industry trade group.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America listed 465 drugs under various stages of development, adding that the aging of the population made chronic diseases a principal threat to the health and productivity of older Americans, as well as contribution to growing healthcare costs.

"Our ability to prevent, manage and treat chronic diseases has progressed dramatically in recent years, due in large part to the discovery and availability of new innovative medicines," PhRMA president and CEO John Castellani said. "But we can't rest on our laurels. The more than 400 medicines in the pipeline for diseases prevalent among older Americans have tremendous potential to improve and extend the lives of seniors, and reduce costly emergency room visits, hospitalizations and surgical procedures."

The drugs include 142 for diabetes; 92 for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis; 82 for Alzheimer's disease; 48 for heart failure; and 40 for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. All of these conditions affect millions of elderly people in the United States, and Alzheimer's could affect nearly 8 million people by 2030 unless a treatment or preventative measure is found.