The Man in the White Suit

New test for dementia. PM urges more resach into antibiotics. Most of us probably assumed that the next wonder drug would be a cure for cancer, the prevention of dementia or may be a new generation of antibiotics effective against super bugs. But what if a multinational drugs company in striving to do just this has stumbled on something else. Not a cure or prevention more a very effective way of delaying the onset of a whole range of conditions generally associated with growing older. What if the researche is clear this new combination drug will not extend life but it will dramatically improve the quality of life for those over 60.
Simply put they have found a way to stimulate the body’s natural immune system and dramatically energise antibody’s. What this means is that the onset of arthritis, diabetes, dementia and most cancers can be delayed by up to 20 years if the patient starts taking the drug in their late 50’s early 60’s. Not only that but tests have shown that those taking the drug do not suffer the gradual deterioration in eye sight, hearing or general levels of mobility and dexterity often associated with growing old. Too good to be true? Yes. This is not a cure it simply delays the onset with the result that patients suffer a sudden and dramatic decline. Basically the immune system has been put into over drive and working twice as hard it lasts half as long.
How many of us given the choice would take a drug daily from the age of 55 that would ensure we remained in top health for the next 15 to 20 years but then almost certainly suffered a massive organ failure. What if patients in secret trails had reported feeling and looking 10 years younger, 60 and may be even 70 can be the new 50. But would we ever get to hear of this new medical breakthrough which could transform the lives of older people, dramatically increasing their quality of life and removing the huge financial burden that is dragging the NHS down?
In this case it is not the cost, although the drug would be very expensive if would pay for itself as a third of NHS expenditure goes on older people. It’s not the ethical issues although clearly there are issues about giving people a drug that will kill them. It is not the need for more extensive trials before the drug can be licensed ,the trials are necessary but once news is out there will be no shortage of volunteers and the drug is already available in the middle east, all be it only to the super rich. Of course some human rights groups are worried that some governments might misuse the drug in the same way they have concerns about voluntary euthanasia. But the reason you and I have been kept in the dark about this wonder drug is that the drug companies and private health insurance industry are concerned that this development could see a collapse in the market. Old age is big business for the drug companies, private health insurance and private health care particularly in the USA. If people are almost guaranteed good health they don’t need health insurance. Whilst the drug companies stand to make massive initial profits they have yet to come up with an effective way of protecting their patent and profits. They fear countries with underdeveloped health services will simply produce their own cheaper versions.
European governments are increasingly concerned about the unaffordableable cost of health care in an aging society whilst  the US government is being heavily lobbied by the powerful pharmaceutical industry. It is the Man in the White Suit all over again!
Blair McPherson author and commentator on the public

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