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Lilly letting U.S. researchers test failed compounds for new uses

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More than 20 compounds that Eli Lilly and Co., Pfizer Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc failed to turn into drugs will be tested by U.S.-sponsored scientists in a $20 million program to see if they’ll work against ailments they weren’t aimed at previously.

If they do, the time to market will be shorter and the drugmakers, who retain ownership of the compounds, will share profits with the researchers, who keep intellectual property rights. Traditionally, companies spend about $2 billion and take 14 years to develop drugs, a so-called “valley-of-death” commitment that’s stalled progress as drugmakers move cautiously in deciding which illness to target.

The joint program, a first for the National Institutes of Health, is designed to lessen their risk, funded by $575 million in the United State's fiscal 2013 budget. The agency cited the HIV treatment AZT, created from failed attempts to treat cancer, in explaining the partnership.

“We need to generate more of these success stories in a more systematic manner,” NIH director Francis Collins said during a news conference announcing the agreements..

The compounds by Indianapolis-based Lilly, New York-based Pfizer and London-based AstraZeneca will make available have already been shown to be safe in humans.

“For us, there is just benefits, in a way,” said Jan Lundberg, executive vice president for science and technology at Lilly.

Drugmakers will have to provide the compounds to researchers, which may requiring manufacturing more of the substances, Lundberg said.

The companies also face costs for maintaining patents on the compounds and for gathering and transmitting clinical data to scientists, said Don Frail, vice president for science and new opportunities at London-based AstraZeneca.

“There’s not a shelf of discontinued compounds that you can just pull one off and give to somebody,” Frail said. Clinical supplies alone, should the compounds enter human trials, may cost as much as $1 million, he said.

Collins said he is hopeful the work will lead to new treatments for diseases of the central nervous system, which have proved so difficult to attack that drug companies are dissuaded from investing in them.

Rod Mackenzie, a senior vice president at Pfizer, said neurological diseases are “one of the great health crises we face across the globe.”

“We need to do better there,” he said.

Should the drugs prove effective against a new disease, the companies will have the option to develop them into a marketed product, the agency said. Taxpayers would get a financial benefit only if an NIH scientist is a researcher on one of the compounds. Then royalties would flow back to the U.S. agency.

“Americans are eagerly awaiting the next generation of cures and treatments to help them live longer and healthier lives,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in a statement. “To accelerate our nation’s therapeutic development process, it is essential that we forge strong, innovative and strategic partnerships across government, academia and industry.”

The bottom-line benefit for the public is societal, Collins said. Diseases that don’t have treatments now may get one, he said.The drugmakers will give researchers access to the chemicals and related data, the NIH said in a statement.
 

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  1. Socialized medicine works great for white people in Scandanavia. It works well in Costa Rica for a population that is partly white and partly mestizo. I don't really see Obamacare as something aimed against whites. I think that is a Republican canard designed to elicit support from white people for republican candidates who don't care about them any more than democrats care about the non-whites they pander to with their phony maneuvers. But what is different between Costa Rica nd the Scandanavian nations on one hand and the US on the other? SIZE. Maybe the US is just too damn big. Maybe it just needs to be divided into smaller self governing pieces like when the old Holy Roman Empire was dismantled. Maybe we are always trying the same set of solutions for different kinds of people as if we were all the same. Oh-- I know-- that is liberal dogma, that we are all the same. Which is the most idiotic American notion going right back to the propaganda of 1776. All men are different and their differences are myriad and that which is different is not equal. The state which pretends men are all the same is going to force men to be the same. That is what America does here, that is what we do in our stupid overseas wars, that is how we destroy true diversity and true difference, and we are all as different groups of folks, feeling the pains of how capitalism is grinding us down into equally insignificant proletarian microconsumers with no other identity whether we like it or not. And the Marxists had this much right about the War of Independence: it was fundamentally a war of capitalist against feudal systems. America has been about big money since day one and whatever gets in the way is crushed. Health care is just another market and Obamacare, to the extent that it Rationalizes and makes more uniform a market which should actually be really different in nature and delivery from place to place-- well that will serve the interests of the biggest capitalist stakeholders in health care which is not Walmart for Gosh Sakes it is the INSURANCE INDUSTRY. CUI BONO Obamacare? The insurance industry. So republicans drop the delusion pro capitalist scales from your eyes this has almost nothing to do with race or "socialism" it has to do mostly with what the INSURANCE INDUSTRY wants to have happen in order to make their lives and profits easier.

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  3. I would not vote for Bayh if he did run. I also wouldn't vote for Pence. My guess is that Bayh does not have the stomach to oppose persons on the far left or far right. Also, outside of capitalizing on his time as U. S. Senator (and his wife's time as a board member to several companies) I don't know if he is willing to fight for anything. If people who claim to be in the middle walk away from fights with the right and left wing, what are we left with? Extremes. It's probably best for Bayh if he does not have the stomach for the fight but the result is no middle ground.

  4. JK - I meant that the results don't ring true. I also questioned the 10-year-old study because so much in the "health care system" has changed since the study was made. Moreover, it was hard to get to any overall conclusion or observation with the article. But....don't be defensive given my comments; I still think you do the best job of any journalist in the area shedding light and insight on important health care issues.

  5. Probably a good idea he doesn't run. I for one do not want someone who lives in VIRGINIA to be the governor. He gave it some thought, but he likes Virginia too much. What a name I cannot say on this site! The way these people think and operate amuses me.

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