Repurpose Failed Drugs, NIH Urges

Francis Collins says pharmaceutical companies should help bridge the gap between basic science and applications with old drug compounds.

By | April 16, 2012

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, CANDY

Drug companies should "open their freezers" and revisit drugs that passed initial safety and efficacy trials but failed in hitting predetermined targets, according to the head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Speaking at the annual TEDMED conference in Washington, DC, last week, Francis Collins lamented the difficulties of translating promising basic science into medical applications in the clinic, but offered a new route to drug makers struggling to bridge that gap. According to the Wall Street Journal, Collins told the crowd that the NIH has been working with drug companies to draft a model agreement that would settle intellectual property issues surrounding the repurposing of older candidate drug compounds. The goal, Collins said, would be to devise new targets for drugs that have proven to be safe and effective, starting them in new Phase II trials rather than starting from scratch.

While some biotechs are already looking for new uses for old drugs, bringing pharma into the effort would open up the range of compounds available for repurposing.

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