Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Drug Industry vs. Cardiocascular Disease

I attended a symposium at NYU where venture capitalist Dr. John Freund of Skyline Ventures gave the keynote.  He used a chart from the CDC to illustrate the benefits of innovation in the pharmaceutical industry, even though it doesn't actually show any temporal relationship between specific pharmaceutical innovations and the dramatic decline in death rates related to cardiovascular disease and stroke (cerebrovascular disease).

I thought it would be more compelling to overlay the introduction of new classes of cardiovascular drugs on this data to see if the relationship would be obvious.  I used the the same sources of data (here and here) for the death rates, but I wasn't able to do the age adjustment from the CDC's chart.  I don't think this makes the visualization any less compelling.  I downloaded data from the FDA to overlay the innovations on the timeline of death rates.


You can see that the steep rise in cardiovascular disease death rates only began to flatten out once pharmaceutical innovation began.  Additional rounds of innovation eventually lead to steep declines in the death rates.

I really like the technique of overlaying qualitative information on top of trends in data.  I think it can be a very powerful way visualization non-quantitative information.