Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pay more for modern drugs and live longer?

Oh dear! I would have expected better than this of economists. The finding that people who use expensive modern drugs live longer is entirely to be expected from the fact that such people are undoubtedly richer. High social class people live longer generally

AUSTRALIANS can add almost 15 months to their lifespan by using the latest drugs - if they can afford it. A study has confirmed the benefits of new-generation medicines, but finds they come at a cost of $10,585 for every extra year of life. The study, published this month by the US National Bureau of Economic Research, compared the average age at death from 1995 to 2008 with dates of registration of 113 drugs being sold in Australia. It found a link, with later-version drugs, rather than older ones, associated with longer lifespans.

"This implies that using newer drugs has reduced premature mortality - especially mortality before age 65 - in the Australian population," it says. The study suggested older medicines still offered benefits, noting that even in the absence of the most recent pharmaceuticals, average age at death would still have increased by about eight months.

Health economists have paid increasing attention to the cost of drugs as spending on Australia's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme has risen. The PBS, which costs taxpayers about $6 billion a year, subsidised 80 per cent of the 170 million prescriptions that were filled in 2004-05. The agency's budget grew by 12.9 per cent a year from 1997-98 to 2002-03, before growth rates slowed due to pricing reforms.


Coke safer than water!

But still not safe enough for the attention-seeking fanatics. Given the vast amount of Sodium benzoate that has already gone down throats worldwide with no demonstrable harm resulting, the whole thing is a crock, anyway

Coca-Cola Australia has no plans to phase out a controversial additive in its drinks, despite moves in Britain to remove it. Sodium benzoate has been linked to damage to DNA and hyperactivity in children [For the crap that passes for reseach on the connection between food additives and hyperactivity see my post of 25th], and is used as a preservative in Diet Coke in Australia. Coca-Cola in Britain said it had begun withdrawing the additive from Diet Coke in January in response to consumer demand for more natural products.

Sodium benzoate is used to stop fizzy drinks going mouldy. It is found naturally in some fruits, including bananas, but is used in greater strengths in the soft drink industry. A statement from Coca-Cola revealed there were no plans to change the formulation of the popular drink in Australia. "The use of food additives is strictly regulated under Australian law," it stated. "All of the ingredients used in products of The Coca-Cola Company are safe and approved for use by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand."

A survey by FSANZ in 2006 found levels of benzene and sodium benzoate in soft drinks were well below World Health Organisation guidelines for levels in drinking water. Even so, they have been working with the food industry to reduce the level of benzene in drinks.


No comments: