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How can new drugs offer alternatives to hospitalization and surgery?

Innovative new medicines make it possible to prevent or slow the progress of many diseases and avoid costly hospitalization and invasive surgery. Between 1980 and 2000, the number of days patients spent in the hospital fell by 56 percent. As a result, Americans avoided 206 million days of hospital care in 2000 alone because of our investment in health care. New medicines have helped prevent hospitalization and surgery for these diseases, among others:

Ulcers. Pharmaceutical research company scientists developed new medicines to treat a number of gastrointestinal disorders over the past two decades. Since these medicines became available to patients, surgical procedures to correct ulcers has fallen, and today ulcer surgery is a relic of the past.

Heart disease. Several studies have found that use of statin therapy to treat people with high cholesterol reduces hospital admissions and invasive cardiac surgeries. For example, a study of one statin showed that it reduced hospital admissions by a third during five years of treatment. It also reduced the number of days that patients had to spend in the hospital when they were admitted, and reduced the need for bypass surgery and angioplasty.

Alzheimer's disease. A new Alzheimer's drug slows the progression of cognitive decline, allowing patients to maintain their independence longer. As a result of higher functioning, they are able to delay entering a nursing home by an average of 30 months. Nursing home care is more costly than in-home care, so this delay can significantly reduce expenditures. By reducing the symptoms of this devastating disease, this medicine reduces the economic and emotional burden on both patient and care-giver.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.