The market for aging consumers is thriving as the baby boomers enter their golden years. With higher disposable incomes than previous generations at this age, and a desire to stay active for longer— you’re just as likely to hear about a 60-year old running a marathon as someone in their 30s— these consumers are looking for products that will help address age-related concerns. To respond to this demand, the nutraceutical industry must ensure products match the needs of a wide variety of people, with someone in their 50s having very different requirements to someone in their 80s. However, developing successful product trials does not come without its difficulties. Annegret Auinger, senior consultant, Analyze & Realize, is presenting on the topic at the Vitafoods Europe Conference, May 6-8, and sheds some light on some of the considerations that must be made.
INSIDER: Why are the elderly a particularly interesting population for clinical trials?
Auinger: People aged 50 years and older currently represent the fastest-growing segment within the global population. Life expectancy has been increasing over the last decades and the percentage of the elderly population (those aged 60 and older) is forecast to increase to 22 per cent worldwide.
This presents the industry with huge opportunities to tap into a new market. Never before have older people been so affluent, self-confident, discerning and health conscious. With careful product development and marketing, the gains are there for the taking.
INSIDER: What are some of the key challenges facing investigators who are doing trials in an elderly population?
Auinger: There are a number of considerations that must be made when doing trials in elderly people. Firstly chronic diseases are more prevalent in elderly people meaning that such subjects could respond differently to an intervention compared to younger subjects in a number of ways, such as distinct pharmacokinetics or the pharmacodynamic response to the intervention. In a similar vein there is also a greater chance of multimorbidity – the occurrence of two or more chronic conditions – and therefore polypharmacy where people are using multiple medicines to treat conditions. In general, the presence of physical and mental fitness or frailty should be carefully evaluated and considered while designing a study.
INSIDER: What are some of the key considerations when developing a clinical trial in an elderly population?
Auinger: Firstly, recruitment should be target-orientated, therefore using traditional techniques such as post and telephone communication rather than social media which works better for younger people.
Once you have recruited your subjects you need to be aware of problems that can arise during the actual trial. These can include transportation and physical access to study site, risk and fear of treatment, the need to read information to subjects, difficulty in swallowing the study product and physical issues in handling packaging.
INSIDER: What are three of the top areas companies should consider investigating specifically in the elderly population?
Auinger: I believe the top three topic areas for the elderly are: cognition and cognitive decline, physical performance and muscle function (Sarcopenia) as well as joint health. People are living for longer and want to retain a healthy lifestyle for as long as possible. There are huge concerns over Alzheimer’s disease and reduced mobility as people grow old meaning products that address issues such as these are likely to do well.
Annegret Auinger is presenting in the Vitafoods Europe Conference on May 7 during the Clinical Trials and Human Testing Module. Prices start at €265. To register, visit www.vitafoods.eu.com.