Medical Education: Prevention Education - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Medical Education: Prevention Education
Pharma can play an important role in treating tomorrow's seniors.


Pharmaceutical Executive


More widespread proactive screening and use of early-detection methods can improve overall health in the United States. Take, for example, cardiovascular disease, which affects more than 64 million (20 percent) Americans. Men have a 49 percent chance of developing coronary heart disease after age 40, and women have a 32 percent chance. But advances in technology for adequately imaging plaques, for example, can indicate a high risk of heart attack and alert healthcare practitioners to implement preventive or corrective measures.

Pharma's Role These innovations, no matter how effective, will make no difference in the lives of patients if physicians aren't aware of their existence and the health advantages they offer. In that way, pharma can play a big part in this move to prevention. After all, healthier patients mean more satisfied and longer-term customers.

Two groups in particular should be supporting this education: manufacturers of screening and diagnostic equipment that enables early detection, and companies that produce the treatments that combat deadly diseases. Pharma, in particular, should promote and support not only the CME that relates to the treatments they manufacture, but also the CME that encourages early detection of disease. If it doesn't, many patients' conditions may reach the stage at which it's too late for treatments to be effective.

Consider the patient with coronary heart disease. If that disease were detected at age 42, the patient may begin receiving medication earlier in life, which, in combination with other preventive measures, controls the disease and keeps the patient feeling healthy past age 70. Had the condition gone undetected, however, it could put the patient in critical care by his mid-50s. Pharma providers have the chance to become part of a regular, ongoing treatment regimen that helps the patient lead a better, healthier, happier life.

When put to use earlier in life, beginning at age 40, these innovative tools not only help increase quality of life, they also reduce the burden of healthcare costs that typically add up for patients as they grow older. The CDC estimates that healthcare expenditures for a 65-year-old are currently four times higher than those for a 40-year-old, and it projects a 25 percent increase in overall US healthcare expenditures by 2030. So why not focus on treating patients before their health worsens? Any progress to narrow the difference and shrink the cost of caring for our seniors will help reduce the strain on our nation's healthcare system.

Widespread adoption of a proactive, preventive approach to healthy aging could create dramatic changes in the system and free much needed resources, sidestepping the crisis that looms on the horizon, when the swelling population of Baby Boomers hits old age. That's the macro view. For pharma more specifically, this approach creates a long-term partnership geared toward improving senior health.

Education is the key, and the ball is already rolling. Some of the United States' leading medical schools and providers of accredited medical education are already offering training and credits on preventive medicine for patients 40 and older. Government and pharmaceutical manufacturers are extending support, and patients will ultimately benefit. However, industry must appreciate its critical role in forming this new view of aging—where it can change this approach into a more tangible reality.


Bridget Maron
People The Curry Rockefeller Group of Companies appointed Michelle Manzo as vice president and managing director of CRG neuroscience. Manzo has worked in the pharma industry at both Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. for five years.


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