For Immediate Release
February 01, 2011
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Cindy Loose

(BPRW) Nearly 300 Medicines in Development to Treat Diseases That Strike Minorities Disproportionately

(BLACK PR WIRE) WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--An American dies of heart disease every 39 seconds, and African Americans suffer a higher death rate from heart disease and stroke than Americans overall. Partly as a result of having the highest prevalence of high blood pressure in the world, African Americans have a 1.5 times greater rate of heart disease death than other Americans and a 1.8 times greater rate of fatal stroke.

A new report released today shows that America’s biopharmaceutical research companies are developing 299 medicines to prevent and to treat heart disease and stroke. All are either in clinical trials or awaiting FDA review. The report was prepared by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

Cutting-edge research includes a medicine that uses human stem cells to form new heart muscle, a gene therapy that uses a patient’s own cells to treat heart failure and a new anticoagulant to prevent deep vein thrombosis, also commonly known as economy class syndrome because of incidences that have occurred among travelers in cramped airline seats.

Unacceptably high numbers of deaths, particularly among African Americans, persist despite the fact that American deaths from heart disease dropped 28% between 1997 and 2007—improvements due in large measure to new medicines, including those to control high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

“Medicines developed for cardiovascular health over the last three decades are in large measure responsible for preventing more than a million American deaths a year,” said PhRMA President and CEO John Castellani. “We have made and continue to make great progress in treating cardiovascular disease, [related video] but we also urge all Americans to take every precaution available to prevent it.”

Further progress in avoiding heart attack and stroke depends on prevention through healthy lifestyles, adherence to medicines prescribed by doctors and new medicines to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease.

Many people already can reduce their odds of heart attack and stroke by leading healthy lifestyles and, when necessary, taking medication to control high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Yet adherence to medication is at least as big a problem as adherence to New Year’s resolutions to get fit. For example, only 48% of Americans with high blood pressure are aware of the condition and have it under control.

“We know that people who have been diagnosed with this disease and do not take their medications as prescribed are almost five times more likely to suffer from a heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, dementia, or premature death,” added Ralph Brindis, M.D., President of the American College of Cardiology. “In order to maximize the potential of advancing science and newly developed drugs, we must continue identifying strategies that successfully help patients follow their treatment plans. This effort in itself has the potential to significantly improve the quality of care for cardiovascular disease and save another million lives every year.”

African Americans are more likely than any other group in the world to have high blood pressure—in fact, 43% of African American adults have what is often called “the silent killer” because symptoms are not obvious. Everyone, African Americans in particular, should have their blood pressure checked regularly.

Last year, cardiovascular disease cost American society more than $503 billion, including treatment for those who have survived heart attacks and strokes, according to the American Heart Association. Medicines currently in development are aimed both at preventing strokes and heart attacks and treating the symptoms of those who have already suffered them. Congenital heart disorders are also among the targets being researched.


The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. PhRMA companies are leading the way in the search for new cures. PhRMA members alone invested an estimated $45.8 billion in 2009 in discovering and developing new medicines. Industry-wide research and investment reached a record $65.3 billion in 2009.

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