Longevity drugs face labelling and reimbursement quandaries with regulatory/payer reluctance, out-of-pocket payments possible – experts

15 Dec 2016

Human longevity drugs may still face labelling and reimbursement challenges should they demonstrate evidence of extending a healthy life span, according to experts. As ageing is not considered a disease, regulators and payers may both take issue with labelling and paying for drugs for longevity. However, should generic drugs like metformin and rapamycin be repurposed for use as longevity agents, patients may just pay out-of-pocket given the drugs’ minimal cost, they added.

Experts noted that as ageing cannot be considered a disease and there are concerns on the potential lifelong administration of drugs for longevity, a longevity label would be challenging. However, a label directed at the accumulation of age-related diseases may be more plausible, two experts added. Whilst payers are unlikely to want to pay for longevity drugs, long-term survival data and long-term interest in reducing health costs may push them to do so, some experts said. Or, there is bound to be some level of out-of-pocket patient payment should the drugs demonstrate effectiveness, they added.

A number of companies are involved in drug development for longevity, including San Francisco, California-based Unity Biotechnology, Baltimore, Maryland-based InSilico Medicine, Bainbridge Island, Washington-based BioViva, San Diego, California-based Human Longevity and Calico – a company established by Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and partnered with AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV). Big pharma has expressed interest in the space with GlaxoSmithKline (LON:GSK) acquiring human longevity drug developer Sirtris Pharmaceuticals in 2008 before eventually shutting it down in 2013 and transferring staff to GSK. All companies did not respond to requests for comment.

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