Last month the National Institutes of Health announced a new partnership between three independent pharmaceutical companies and the newly established National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. Since then five more companies have joined the partnership. Abbott, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen Pharmaceutical Research & Development and Sanofi have joined Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Eli Lilly in the Discovering New Therapeutic Uses for Existing Molecules program.
The partnership gives academic investigators access to compounds that the companies have developed and tested but failed to move past midstage clinical trials. The goal of the program is to find new uses for these compounds and ultimately provide patients with new treatments. The eight participating companies have made 58 compounds available to academic researchers.
While the NIH is hopeful about the potential of this new partnership, there are many who remain skeptical. Many academic researchers felt that, with the creation of NCATS, the NIH was moving away from its core mission of basic research. Even those outside of the research enterprise have questioned whether NCATS will be able to repurpose these failed compounds when the pharmaceutical companies that originally developed them were not.
Stay tuned to the ASBMB Policy Blotter for updates on this and other NIH news!