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How the world got lost on
the road to an anti-aging pill
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January 24, 2017: by Bill Sardi
Another regime change – Americans have endured a few of them. But has any new administration in Washington DC made even a dent in the relentless increase in the cost of medical care?
Out of a total annual 2015 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $18.36 trillion, health care costs amounted to $3.2 trillion (17.4%). [CMS.gov] Health care used to be counted on the expense side rather than the income side of the accounting ledger, a drag on the economy. But now it is considered a source of American jobs that cannot be shipped overseas like manufacturing jobs. Politicians like to brag how much money is being spent on health care and divvy out as much as they can to gain votes.
However, if the newly installed administration in Washington DC does in fact lower the cost of medical care, won’t that bring about a loss of jobs, precious incomes the new President promised disillusioned Americans?
The Department of Labor is counting health care related jobs to be the fastest growing source of jobs over the next decade. [Bureau Labor Standards] The increased demand for doctors, nurses and ancillary personnel springs from a growing population of longer-living elderly Americans with chronic age-related diseases. Of the roughly 150,000 people who die in the world each day, ~100,000 die of age-related causes. [Disabled World]
There is opportunity to conquer all age-related maladies in one fell swoop as it has become evident that there is a common genetic pathway for age-related diseases. [Aging Cell Oct 2015] Instead of taking 5-10 different drugs to treat the symptoms of aging as they occur, aging itself and its accompanying diseases would be delayed or even reversed, possibly by a single pill.
While gene mutations only account for ~2% of all disease, most chronic age-related disease doesn’t involve faults in gene structure but rather the dynamic ability of genes to make proteins (called gene expression or gene silencing) which is referred to as epigenetics. [Age Oct 2013]
Therefore, inherited gene mutations may be inevitable and produce single-gene disorders such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell, muscular dystrophy or Huntington’s disease. But aging and its accompanying diseases (diabetes, arthritis, cancer, heart, brain and liver disease) are modifiable.
The diet, namely a calorie-restricted diet, practiced daily or intermittently, doubles the lifespan and healthspan of lower forms of life (fruit flies, roundworms, and mice). Or a molecular mimic (i.e. anti-aging pill) may target the same genes as food deprivation and provide a shortcut to allay the ravages of aging.
Is this actually possible? In an overlooked study published in 2008 researchers compared a calorie restricted diet to a normal diet + the red wine molecule resveratrol or resveratrol + other small antioxidant molecules in laboratory mice. Mice have about the same number of genes (~25,000) as humans.
Life-long calorie restriction in a mouse activates ~832 genes. In a short-term 12-week study, the calorie-restricted diet significantly differentiated the activity of 198 genes and presumably would have altered 832 genes if practiced over a lifetime; plain resveratrol altered 225 genes and strikingly the resveratrol + other antioxidants (Longevinex®) 1711 genes. [Experimental Gerontology Sept 2008]
In other words, what would taken a lifetime to achieve in a laboratory mouse was exceeded by 9-fold in just 12 weeks. Eighty-two percent (82%) of the same 832 longevity genes were switched in the same direction (on or off) as a limited calorie diet by the resveratrol matrix (Longevinex®), which is a commercially available nutraceutical. That is the closest anyone has come to a molecular mimic of a calorie-restricted diet.
The stage is now set for the introduction of an anti-aging pill as President Donald Trump is considering Jim O’Neill, of libertarian persuasion, as head of the Food & Drug Administration.
O’Neill espouses the idea of drug companies proving their drugs are safe and letting the consumers decide if they are effective, thus reducing the cost of drug development and the time it takes for medications to reach the marketplace. He is also an advocate of an anti-aging pill. O’Neill sees it as the world’s first trillion-dollar product
O’Neill sees a day when drug prices are driven lower by competition. [Bloomberg News Dec 7, 2016]
President Trump wants to put all the drugs purchased under Medicare out for bid, something Congress hasn’t had the gumption to do. [Bloomberg News Jan 12, 2017] The pharmaceutical sector of the stock market plunged just on the thought of such a development.
But O’Neill represents a revolutionary re-direction of healthcare as we know it, not just more competitively priced medicines. O’Neill says: “Because there is not a free market in health care, people are suffering very significant health consequences.”
O’Neill wants to put a halt to the idea America can run in two directions at the same time — produce new jobs in the healthcare sector while reducing the demand for care upon which these jobs depend.
O’Neill has said he believes anti-aging treatments “are long overdue for innovation.” He is setting the stage for an anti-aging pill. [Bloomberg News Dec 7, 2016]
Modern medicine loathes a pill that would replace most modern medicines (antidepressants, anti-diabetic medicines, blood pressure pills, statin drugs, etc.). The entire system of modern medicine is designed to treat disease as it occurs, not prevent or delay the onset of disease altogether. There is no insurance billing code for “premature aging.”
Modern society is paying a steep price by not pushing an anti-aging pill forward. The care of millions of elderly Americans is breaking federal and personal budgets. Medicare today is funding part of its financial obligations to retirees out of the general fund that has merged with the Medicare and Social Security Trust funds. The Medicare Trust Fund has nothing but IOUs in it (promises to pay from the US government called US Treasury notes).
As an aside, the reason why immigrants have been allowed to cross our southern border so freely has been to build a larger group of young workers who make FICA payroll deductions to offset the growing costs of caring for aged Americans.
Furthermore, we have gone past the point where any new drug can head off a looming mental health catastrophe as millions of Americans live long enough to drift into senility, dementia and Alzheimer’s memory loss. Only 1 of 244 synthetic drugs for Alzheimer’s disease gained approval from the FDA over the past decades. [Biotech Now 2016] Modern pharmacology has had its chance and has abjectly failed. Nutraceuticals like resveratrol pills must be given an opportunity to fill this void.
Society must employ the best available evidence today rather than wait another decade for yet another disappointing synthetic drug. There is a growing body of evidence for the use of vitamin B1 (thiamin) and resveratrol to slow or even reverse brain aging. [Knowledge of Health July 8, 2013; Lew Rockwell July 17, 2006] These two molecules are currently found in an available nutraceutical (Longevinex® Advantage), formulated by this author.
Aging researcher S. Jay Olshansky says the goal of an anti-aging pill would be to delay the onset of age-related disease by ~7 years and thus spare Medicare from financial insolvency. [Aging Today 2013] Alzheimer’s now costs Medicare/Medicaid $160 billion a year and an additional $46 billion in out-of-pocket costs. [Alzheimer’s Association] Humanity cannot afford NOT to push an anti-aging pill forward.
Natural molecules like resveratrol out-perform pharmaceutically designed single gene-targeted drugs because they aim at a broad number of genes which is what would be required to slow or reverse aging. [Annals New York Academy Sciences Aug 2015] Modern medicine has negatively characterized resveratrol as a “promiscuous molecule” that has no defined gene target.
Over a decade ago The Rand Corporation think tank placed an anti-aging pill in future Medicare budgets. That proposal has been forgotten. The problem in adopting an anti-aging pill is not the science, it’s the opposition to it. Congress needs to help amortize pharmaceutical investments in existing drug technologies with tax credits in order to accelerate adoption of an anti-aging pill.
In 1995 author Scott Van De Mark wrote a novel entitled ELIXIR (out of print), which was about a biologist who invented a youth pill. The novel wasn’t so much about the pill but the enormous opposition to it.
In the book, Dan McEllis, the name of the fictional scientist who developed the pill, won a Nobel Prize, acquired a drug company to market his pill, became a billionaire, and had millions of Americans taking his youth pill for $199 a month.
But this fictional scientist also had his product banned by the Catholic Church, initially opposed by the American Medical Association and population control groups, temporarily removed from sale by the Food & Drug Administration, and faced a Constitutional Amendment against it.
In the book, casket makers aligned with owners of cemeteries in an attempt to buy McEllis out, claiming such a pill would put many out of work. Racial groups threatened inventor McEllis they would go public with accusations he was a racist if he didn’t provide Blacks with some of the first pills.
Today any nutraceutical company that dares to make a claim its product has anti-aging properties faces criminal prosecution by the US Attorney General and the AG has pressed bankers to arbitrarily deny applications for merchant accounts for any company that dares to market such a product online. [LewRockwell.com 2016]
In Van de Mark’s book, doctors were eventually won over by McEllis when his youth pill had to be acquired exclusively by prescription only and they were cut in on the profits. At first, doctors used up all the available pills for themselves and their families. In the book it was rumored the President of the United States was taking Elixir. [Knowledge of Health 2010]
Jobs will surely be lost with a $1 trillion reduction in healthcare costs. Budget-wise, the imagined reduction of $1 trillion of health care expenses made possible by adoption of a theoretical anti-aging pill would simply free up funds to be used in other sectors of the economy. It would create jobs in new areas like green energy, sustainable agriculture, etc. Maybe even more consumer goods would be sold as discretionary income increases.
Governments are likely to be hesitant to take timely action. The public has also been wary of such a pill, concerned they would outlive their retirement funds and live more years in a debilitated state with chronic disease, drooling at the mouth and confined to a wheel chair. However, that is precisely the situation we find most institutionalized senior Americans today – over-drugged and senile. A true anti-aging pill prolongs healthspan as well as lifespan.
The public need not wait for physicians and gatekeepers to embrace an anti-aging pill. But the public has been reticent to step forward without doctor approval and insurance reimbursement, both which are unlikely to occur.
Certainly the wine drinking French and Italians adopted an anti-aging pill of sorts long ago in liquid form.
A long-term 9-year study among elderly residents in Italy recently showed moderate wine drinkers were half as likely to experience mental decline compared to teetotalers. But that finding was buried and researchers portrayed resveratrol in wine as an ineffective anti-aging agent. [ResverarolNews.com Dec 29, 2014]
The written account of Luigi Cornaro (1464-1566 AD) who lived in Padua, Italy and prolonged his life by limiting his food intake to 12 ounces and wine to 14 ounces a day is often cited. He died in a rocking chair after living 102 healthy years. [The Art of Living Long] Red wine during Cornaro’s time was unfiltered and provided 30 times more resveratrol and other anti-aging molecules. It was even more powerful than today’s red wine pills.
The newly elected administration in Washington DC wants to make America first. But it may not be the first to adopt an anti-aging pill.
Short of placing resveratrol in tap water, a foreign country (whose identity will remain undisclosed) is in negotiation to provide such a pill for its entire adult population. The pill was put to a subjective test among government officials. The aforementioned nutraceutical was first given to a general in the military who was battling liver cancer. Within a short time his cancer markers fell into the normal range. The second person given the pill had cataracts and experienced markedly improved vision within nine days. They see it as a miracle pill.
Here in the US an anti-aging pill is covertly shunned. Not even a single study to ascertain resveratrol’s ability to reduce mortality from coronary artery disease has taken place even though resveratrol is widely known as a red wine molecule responsible for the French Paradox (the fact the red wine-drinking French have a much lower death rate than North Americans). Any researcher who significantly advances resveratrol science may be falsely accused of research fraud. [ResveratrolNews.com Sept 25, 2013; Oct 19, 2015] Overseas they haven’t built such a strong medical industry to oppose it.
If there is going to be real change in healthcare, an anti-aging pill should rise on the list of priorities. America cannot simultaneously proceed in two opposite directions: (1) to rely upon a continual supply of chronically ill older Americans to provide new jobs; and (2) to attempt to prevent or delay age-related maladies to prolong healthspan and lifespan. One road must be chosen.
Despite a diet rich in carbohydrates and sugars, longer life expectancy in America is now being achieved by adding years to the end of life rather than lowering infant mortality, as was the case a century ago. The cost of care for a burgeoning population of older Americans will be crippling.
A calorie-restricted diet has been found to be effective even when implemented in older mammals. [Rejuvenation Research 2004] The presumption is no one is too old to benefit from an anti-aging pill that serves as a molecular mimic of a calorie restricted diet.
But such a pill must be affordable too. The US Census Bureau projects there will be 54 million Americans age 65 years and over by the year 2020. [Census Bureau] A $1/day anti-aging nutraceutical adopted into the daily health regimen by 54 million adult Americans would cost ~$20 billion a year. That would be far short of the pharmaceutical quest to develop the world’s first $1 trillion synthetic anti-aging drug. Come to think of it, an anti-aging pill that generates $1 trillion in revenues puts America right back where it started financially. ©2017 Bill Sardi, Resveratrol News.com