EMBL/EMBO Joint Conference 2004
Charles McConnel, University of Texas, Dallas, Austin, USA
Dr. McConnel is a Professor of Health Care Sciences in the University of Texas Southwestern School of Allied Health Sciences, an Associate Professor of Family Practice and Community Medicine in Southwestern Medical School in Dallas and an Adjunct Professor of Management and Policy Science in the University of Texas School of Public Health, University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston. Prior to his appointments in the U.T. system, Dr. McConnel taught at San Diego State University, Alfred University, Occidental College and the University of Southern California. Dr. McConnel teaches courses in health care economics, epidemiology of aging, statistics and economics of aging. His research has included studies of the economics of long-term care and survival patterns of institutionalized patients, economic factors in the geographical distribution of physicians and health services utilization by the rural elderly. He has been the Principal Investigator on research grants funded by the National Center for Health Services Research (now Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality), National Institute on Aging, Health Care Financing Administration, the Andrus Foundation (AARP) and the Hogg Foundation. His most recent work has focused on the socio-demographic determinants of demand for prehospital emergency services and health expenditure patterns of the elderly. In addition to his teaching and research, Dr. McConnel has conducted studies for the university on the economic impact of the medical school on the regional economy and studies for the Executive Vice-Chancellor for Health Affairs, University of Texas System, on the economic impact of all U. T. medical schools on the state economy. Other professional activities include past membership on the Texas Department of Health's Osteoporosis Advisory Committee, and a member of the Steering Committee of the Dallas County Coalition on Aging and Developmental Disabilities and Technical Advisory and Investment Panels of the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.
The anti-aging economy – prospects and problems
Although anti-aging medicine is rarely defined, from an economic perspective it appears to encompass at least three relatively diverse areas of activity:
- The production and marketing of a broad assortment of life-enhancing products, services and devices, many promoted and intended principally for an aging population,
- highly technical research programs in firms launched by entrepreneurial scientists whose main objectives include expansion of the life-span through manipulation of the human genome and
- on the boundary of the antiaging concept, a sub-sector of the biotechnology industry producing pharmacogenomic advances in genetic testing and therapy targeted toward identifying the genetic determinants of disease and interventions that directly affect the quality and quantity of life.
Each of these diverse areas currently or potentially must compete for economic resources and markets within a traditional but highly progressive medical technology sector, is constrained by uncertainties similar to those that impinge on the provision and consumption of conventional health services and is driven by a similar technological imperative. Given the constraints and opportunity costs associated with the production and consumption of anti-aging products and services, health economics offer a clear conceptual and theoretical framework within which the potential behavior of economic agents, be they consumers or producers, can be evaluated and outcomes better anticipated. The health production model, which incorporates disease as a random event and views the consumer of health care as one who is investing in additional productive days of life as well as in the enjoyment of those additional days, seems appropriate since it accommodates investments in both the quantity and quality of life. This presentation will examine the relevance of several economic concepts to anti-aging medicine including the economic value of additional years of life, time value of money and recent application of cost-effectiveness analysis to biogenetic testing and the adoption of biogenomic products.