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Diabetes, Alzheimer's Top 2 Areas for Drug Research


Diabetes, Alzheimer's, arthritis and heart disease top the list for the most new drugs in development to treat the common chronic diseases of older Americans, according to a new drug- industry report.

The report, by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), an industry trade association, says 435 medicines that primarily target seniors are currently either in clinical trials or under review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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Diabetes drugs are the largest chunk, at 110 potential new medications, followed by 67 for Alzheimer 's, 62 for arthritis and 61 for heart disease. The numbers are a drop from last year, when 142 diabetes drugs were in development, arthritis had 92 and Alzheimer 's had 82.

This year 's report notes that Americans are living longer, meaning the number of those who are 65 or older and dealing with serious chronic conditions is also growing. For the drug industry, that means developing medications to treat the nearly 50 million Medicare beneficiaries suffering from conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoarthritis and diabetes.

The report warns, however, that the development of new medicines "is a long and risky road." Even medicines that reach clinical trials have only a 16 percent chance of being approved.

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Of the 110 diabetes drugs currently under development, nine have submitted an application for FDA approval, while 77 are in the early stages (phases one and two) of clinical trials - in other words, several years away from approval. Among the 67 Alzheimer 's drugs being tested, only one has been submitted to the FDA, while 56 are still in phase one or two clinical trials.

Photo: ajt/iStock


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