Big Pharma Looks To Cash In On Sarcopenia

I wrote an extensive article on sarcopenia  (age related loss of muscle masss)  in 2007 HERE.  As expected, this has become a big area of research and interest. An article just published in the NY Times business section entitled  “Doctors Seek Way to Treat Muscle Loss” covers the commercial interests in this condition. Various comments I don’t agree with, but it’s clear, as I predicted, this would be an area of focus once it was fully appreciated how much $$$ it costs the health care system and how much $$$ can be made from a magic pill to treat it.

Doctors Seek Way to Treat Muscle Loss
Published: August 30, 2010. NY Times

Bears emerge from months of hibernation with their muscles largely intact. Not so for people, who, if bedridden that long, would lose so much muscle they would have trouble standing.

Why muscles wither with age is captivating a growing number of scientists, drug and food companies, let alone aging baby boomers who, despite having spent years sweating in the gym, are confronting the body’s natural loss of muscle tone over time.

Comparisons between age groups underline the muscle disparity: An 80-year-old might have 30 percent less muscle mass than a 20-year-old. And strength declines even more than mass. Weight-lifting records for 60-year-old men are 30 percent lower than for 30-year-olds; for women the drop-off is 50 percent.

With interest high among the aging, the market potential for maintaining and rebuilding muscle mass seems boundless. Drug companies already are trying to develop drugs that can build muscles or forestall their weakening without the notoriety of anabolic steroids. Food giants like Nestlé and Danone are exploring nutritional products with the same objective.

In addition, geriatric specialists, in particular, are now trying to establish the age-related loss of muscles as a medical condition under the name sarcopenia, from the Greek for loss of flesh. Simply put, sarcopenia is to muscle what osteoporosis is to bone.

“In the future, sarcopenia will be known as much as osteoporosis is now,” said Dr. Bruno Vellas, president of the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics.

NY Times article Cont: HERE

  1. makster 14 years ago

    I do agree this is a very interesting topic. I see a lot of older people who suffer from this. I don't even think they realize it's happening. My 75 year old father is a prime example. He always says he can't do the things he used to or hasn't got the strength he used to have. I realize this is part of the normal aging process. I do believe that it would not be as bad if he had been doing some resistance training earlier in life.
    He does go to the gym now to try to help the situation, but it is a very slow process, with little improvement. Although he does feel better and there is "some" improvement.
    I didn't start lifting much until after I turned mid 40's. Now at very close to 54 I feel I have as much strength and mobility as I have ever had. I will continue to follow the advice from your article to try to remain that way.
    Thanks Will!

  2. Jim 14 years ago

    I have been seeing advertisements on TV for low T and the normal consult your doctor because some pharm company has the drug that will help. I am pretty sure this is the road it's going down. What is interesting is that woman have been taking HRT for many years, they also get it in a sense with BC pills, but with men, T has been a legal taboo. Will the aging population make it more acceptable? Look at Stallone. He has admitted as much and if you look at him, well, res ipsa locquitur.

    • john d 14 years ago

      Yes I do agree that sarcopenia is a problem, I'm 67 but do still train. It helps a lot, what interested me was when Will said the sooner you start prevention, the better (easier) it is. Problem – when you're, say 20, you think your'e invincible, indestructible, whatever! Most people therefore, only attempt to cure a problem when it becomes visible, rather than prevent it , when it is not "a real and present danger" – and big pharma knows this and will make a bomb from their future product. I agree with Jim, there is gap waiting to be filled. Some countries recognise the andropause and prescribe Andriol (T) – in the UK and I think the US, "it's all in the mind", we're told. No, big pharma's on a winner with this one.

  3. Jim 14 years ago

    I'm 53 and lift weights on a regular basis, and I've been trying to get my 84 year old mother to start doing some strength training since she has problems with her balance and has lost a lot of strength over the last 10 years. Unfortunately, she won't do it. She just can't fathom someone her age lifting weights, no matter how often I tell her about the benefits of weight lifting for seniors.

    • Author
      willbrink 14 years ago

      Jim, my 87 year old father, who suffers serous balance issues and weakness due to sarcopenia, ordered a multi gym set up and a trainer to come in weekly to help him, so if he can do it your mother can too. If she does not want to, then not much you can do about it….good luck

  4. Scott 14 years ago

    I think Will once again has hit the nail on the head. If you have ever gone to Japan you would have noticed that very few people are bound by mobility devices or obese. The country does not cater to them very well. No ramps go to the hotels or subways and very few people use anything resembling a scooter or wheelchair. I feel it is directly related to diet and the need to have to be mobile on their own. Diets rich in fish oils and foods that are free from the excessive processing and preservatives may be at the heart of the solution. It also helps that due to high populations and inability to have ready access to personal automotive transportation they have also inadvertently created a system to make the public stay active. In contrast here in the states the focus is fast food and processed high calorie feel good foods, automation, and lack of personal effort. After all why would someone want to exert energy walking to the cabinet for more potato chips when they can take the power chair? Anyone remember the movie Wall-E ….. nuff said!

  5. kevin 14 years ago

    If your doctor won't prescribe HGH, I imagine creatine monohydrate would help? I'm 53 and run 50 miles a week, at least I was til tearing my achilles. Now I'm going to the gym for upper body work and pool-running.

    • Author
      willbrink 14 years ago

      Kevin, have you read the full article linked above I wrote? That covers diet, nutrients (eg, creatine..), etc for combating age related muscle loss in depth. 😉

  6. Ellamae Boucher 14 years ago

    Useful tips and Good style you got for your blog! I would like to say thanks for sharing your views and time in to the stuff you publish! Cheers.

  7. mirundap 14 years ago

    Like james wrote it’s right

  8. john d 14 years ago

    This interests me because I'm 67, a fair reason. I do think you can do a lot to counteract this condition, but it does mean hard work, and I'm pleased to hear Will say start early! But where does this leave those people who never bothered when young, then later found the condition creeping up on them, and decided to start, say, a belated weight training program? I'm OK so far, I keep up the training etc, but is there a miracle drug thatt'll replace atrophied muscle? Not sure, but it seems to me us baby boomers are getting targetted! What have we got? Money and the desire to live forever?

    • Author
      willbrink 14 years ago

      John, did you read the linked article on sarcopenia I wrote? That covers most of what is required to counter age related loss of muscle, etc. Hormones, diet, etc, are all essential variables there. Anyone at any age can start a resistance program and benefit from it.;)

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