Dr. Alan Green’s patients travel from around the country to his tiny practice in Queens, N.Y., lured by the prospect of longer lives.
Over the past two years, more than 200 patients have flocked to see Green after learning that two drugs he prescribes could possibly stave off aging. One 95-year-old was so intent on keeping her appointment that she asked her son to drive her from Maryland after a snowstorm had closed the schools.
Green is among a small but growing number of doctors who prescribe drugs “off-label” for their possible anti-aging effects. Metformin is typically prescribed for diabetes, and rapamycin prevents organ rejection after a transplant, but doctors can prescribe drugs off-label for other purposes — in this case, for “aging.”
Rapamycin’s anti-aging effects on animals and metformin’s on people with diabetes have encouraged Green and his patients to experiment with them as anti-aging remedies, even though there’s little evidence healthy people could benefit.
“Many of [my patients] have Ph.D.s,” said Green, who is 76 and has taken the drugs for three years. “They have read the research and think it’s worth a try.”
In fact, it’s easier for patients to experiment with the drugs — either legally off-label or illegally from a foreign supplier — than it is for researchers to launch clinical trials that would demonstrate they work in humans.