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Baby Boomers Influence Age-Defying Drugs

Group Will Reshape Pharmaceutical, Supplement Industry as They Grow Older

WebMD Health News

May 24, 2004 (New York) -- Baby boomers are now set to revolutionize and revitalize the pharmaceutical industry -- much like they did the diaper industry years ago -- say antiaging experts speaking at a symposium on rejuvenation medicine in New York City.

Born between 1946 and 1964, the 80 million baby boomers change every market they enter and the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industry will be no different. By 2025, at least 15% of Americans will be older than 65 and people older than 85 are the most rapidly growing segment of the population.

"The explosion in the U.S. of supplement usage occurred for many reasons including baby boomers who were are not happy with results of conventional therapies," says wellness expert David H. Rahm, MD, president of VitaMedica Corporation in Manhattan Beach, Calif.

Catching More ZZZ's

The first area they alter may be the treatment of sleeplessness.

"Sleep is such a huge problem and affects such a large percentage of our population that there is a lot of money to be made by the next pharmaceutical company to come up with a safe and effective agent," Rahm says. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep disorders affect approximately 85 million people in the U.S.

The newer agents will reach beyond those currently available. "The problem with existing agents is tolerance. They stop working as well after a while, so you have to take larger doses to sleep," he says.

In addition, he says, these medications have the potential to affect your liver in a negative way.

One promising drug currently awaiting FDA approval is Estorra, he says. In a recent study presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, Estorra significantly reduced the amount of time that older people with insomnia lie awake at night. Estorra, which slows brain metabolism and activity, also helped elderly people with insomnia fall asleep faster and cut down on daytime drowsiness.

"This is a very promising agent," Rahm says.

Move Over Viagra?

Another thing aging boomers won't give up any time soon is their sex life.

However, Rahm says, that efforts to develop drugs that treat female sexual dysfunction will all fall short. Unlike male sexual dysfunction, "female sexual dysfunction is not a very promising area for the development of drugs because sexual function in women is very sophisticated and a complicated issue that goes far beyond pharmaceutical agents," he says.

Memory Menders

Drugs aimed at alleviating the cognitive function that comes along with normal aging will also be warmly welcomed by the baby boomer sect, Rahm predicts.

Currently available drugs such as Aricept (donepezil hydrochloride) "are targeted toward people with early signs of Alzheimer's disease where there is true disease and you are trying to alter the course [and] that's very different from a healthy patient with cognitive manifestations of aging in whom you want to improve his or her mental function," he explains.

These agents may be pharmaceuticals or they may be nutraceuticals, he predicts.

So how does plastic surgery fit into all of this?

It's simple, "baby boomers will want to look younger if they live longer and feel better," says Brian M. Kinney, MD, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon based in Los Angeles.

James H. Carraway agrees which is why he says age management should become part of some plastic surgery practices.

"Plastic surgery can give a more a youthful look and appear to turn the clock back ... add this to other treatments directed to appearing and feeling more youthful and it is a great combination," he says.

Age management can address weight gain, nutrition, exercise, supplements, hormone replacement, cognitive assessment, stress management, hair and cosmetics, and cosmetic surgery procedures.

Brush Up on Beauty

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