Merck and AstraZeneca, usually rivals in the pharmaceutical world, are teaming up to test two of their cancer drugs as a combination therapy, say Bloomberg's Robert Langreth and Michelle Fay Cortez. And they're spurring a movement — at least eight other drugmakers have joined together to test combination therapies since Merck and AstraZeneca began their partnership in 2009. Bristol-Myers Squibb and Roche have joined together to collaborate on two skin cancer therapies, and Sanofi and Germany's Merck KGaA are developing two new drugs jointly in order to make them work better together from the start, Langreth and Cortez write. Experts say the new model of cooperation may become more prevalent in the pharmaceutical industry, which, unlike academia, is unused to collaboration. But as researchers are continuing to find, single therapies for cancer are less effective than combinations, and patients can benefit from a therapy regimen that attacks their cancer from multiple angles. And now that pharma has gotten into a collaborative mindset, Langreth and Cortez add, "Drug companies and research hospitals may need to join together in a giant network to test numerous possible drug combinations."
Jun 16, 2011