Report Offers Hope For Closing Health Gap For African Americans

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The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) delivered a new report on medicines in the research pipeline for major diseases affecting African Americans to Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour today. The report found that America's pharmaceutical research companies are now testing 691 new medicines to help treat diseases that disproportionately affect African Americans or diseases that are among the top 10 causes of death among African Americans. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Mississippi has the largest (37 percent) African American population in the United States.

"We delivered this report to Governor Barbour because of its relevance to the health of Mississippi's African American population," said Ken Johnson, PhRMA Senior Vice President. "The diseases highlighted in the report, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, are among the diseases that disproportionately affect African Americans in Mississippi."

For example, according to state statistics, African Americans in Mississippi have a mortality rate from cardiovascular disease that is 25 percent higher than whites, stroke is 66 percent higher than whites, and African Americans in Mississippi are almost twice as likely as whites to have diabetes.

"There are complex reasons for the health disparity between African Americans and other Americans that are not fully understood," said PhRMA President and CEO Billy Tauzin. "These 691 medicines in development offer hope for closing the troubling health gap and increase the likelihood that every American can share in the benefits of medical progress."

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The medicines in development include:

-- 229 medicines for cancers that disproportionately affect African Americans. According to the American Cancer Society, African Americans have the highest mortality rate of any racial and ethnic group for all cancers combined.

-- 114 medicines designed to treat cardiovascular disease. According to the American Heart Association, African Americans have the highest prevalence rate of high blood pressure in the world.

-- 95 medicines in development for diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, African Americans are nearly two times more likely to have diabetes compared with whites.

-- 77 medicines for respiratory disorders, including asthma. According to the American Lung Association, African Americans have the highest asthma rate of any other racial and ethnic group. They are also three times more likely to die from asthma than whites.

-- 67 medicines that target HIV infection. Although the overall estimated numbers of new HIV infections have been decreasing, African Americans accounted for 49 percent of cases of HIV infection diagnosed in 2005, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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