Novartis CEO on health care

Daniel Vasella, chief executive of the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis, discusses the U.S. health care system in an interview with the New York Times

Vasella, who was listed in the Time 100 of 2004, has this to say about the demographics of Alzheimer’s Disease:

In the United States alone, we have an estimated five million patients. The costs are about $150 billion a year. With the aging of the population, and the strong link between senile dementia and Alzheimer’s, the patients who will get it is increasing dramatically. By 2050 worldwide, it’s estimated that the number of people with this disease will increase to 100 million.

If you extrapolate that to the United States alone, the bill will be outrageous, aside from all the human misery. The human costs and monetary costs will be absolutely terrible. We need to invest more in research in the central nervous system.

According to a report published last year by the National Institute of Aging, the number of Americans aged 65 and over is expected to double in the next 25 years. And Europe also has an aging population: in 20 years’ time, the number of people aged over 80 will be 2-3 times bigger than it is now.

Alzheimer’s research is, therefore, something that big pharma has invested in heavily, as there are huge profits to be made from an effective drug treatment for the condition.

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