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  • Brave New World: 
The Impact Of An Anti-Aging Pill
 On Medicare

    July 5, 2015: by Bill Sardi

    This writer has already reported that the prospect of an anti-aging pill gaining official approval by the Food & Drug Administration has inched closer to reality with the submission of a proposal for a 5-7-year study involving 3000 subjects 70-80 years of age.  The study would cost $50 million but funding has not yet been approved.  [Nature June 17, 2015]

    If the study is approved by the FDA and funded by the National Institutes of Health somewhere around the year 2020-2022 the world would hear whether Metformin, already an FDA-approved anti-diabetic drug, serves to slow or even reverse aging and the become the world’s first approved anti-aging pill.  From existing published literature it can be said with a some degree of certainty the answer will be yes.

    The impact of such a development would be monumental.  For one thing, such a pill would address many diseases and possibly reduce the overall demand for drugs that only treat the symptoms of aging rather than its causes.

    Indeed, metformin raises a cell energy sensing molecule called AMPK that is said to reduce the risk for arterial disease, heart attack, stroke, heart enlargement, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, reduce risk for mental decline and health risks associated with weight gain as well as improve cancer therapy and even act as a cancer preventive.  [Age April 2014]

    However, just how Big Pharma steps aside and allows one drug to replace many others is difficult to fathom.

    But it appears the growing momentum to turn emerging anti-aging technologies into reality has forced the hand of the research community.  As expected, a drug rather than a dietary supplement was chosen for the study.  That drug, metformin, offers marginal but statistically significant health and longevity in laboratory animals (8% lifespan prolongation) and in humans “a small but statistically significant improvement in survival.” [Bulletin Experimental Biology Medicine 2005; Nature World News Aug 8, 2014; Diabetes Obesity Metabolism Nov 2014]  That is a far cry from lifespan-doubling produced among calorie-restricted mice.

    Furthermore, as the patent on metformin expired long ago it is an economical prescription drug that is more affordable than many resveratrol pills. shows a 500-milligram Metformin pill sells for 19 to 35-cents.  [] Medicare would likely pay for the Rx.

    Would metformin be prescribed for premature aging?  If so, how would that be determined?

    Would it being prescribed and paid for every Medicare enrollee beyond age 70 that comprises the age group in the aforementioned study?

    There are close to 29 million Americans over the age of 70.  A year’s supply of 500-milligram metformin pills would cost ~$70 retail ($5.83/month).  Provision of metformin pills for 29 million Americans @$70/month would cost $2.03 billion.  There are another 14 million Americans age 65-69 that could also elect to take metformin that could push the bill for metformin over $3 billion a year.

    Medicare spending will have risen from ~$550 billion today to $750-800 billion by the year 2020-2022 when the study is completed.  Another 3 billion dollars spent on metformin to see if it reduces overall Medicare expenses appears to be worthy of such a trial.  Healthier seniors should result in lower health care expenses.  [Kaiser Foundation]

    So metformin is an anti-aging pill that may produce only marginal prolongation of life, fill doctors offices with patients to obtain a prescription, cost less than many promising dietary supplements and be paid for by Medicare.  Predictably, modern medicine has boxed a more promising anti-aging agent like resveratrol out of the market.  — ©2015 Bill Sardi,

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