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U.S. Government Collaborates with Big Pharma for Drug Discovery

Reuters reports that the U.S. Government will help drug companies find treatments for a host of diseases through a new collaboration in which researchers at the National Institutes of Health will test experimental drugs provided by manufacturers.

Pfizer Inc, AstraZeneca Plc and Eli Lilly and Co have agreed to make dozens of compounds available for a pilot phase of the project.

Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services Secretary, said:

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

Dr. Francis Collins, NIH Director, said:

“We need to speed the pace at which we are turning discoveries into better health outcomes. NIH looks forward to working with our partners in industry and academia to tackle an urgent need that is beyond the scope of any one organization or sector.”

Big advances in genetics have allowed researchers to identify causes of more than 4,500 diseases. Turning those discoveries into treatments has been difficult, and there are drugs to treat only about 250 of these conditions. On a later point of time it will be interesting to learn if the collaboration between public and private has found more treatments or found them faster than Big Pharma would have on their own.