Pfizer has agreed to pay Washington University in St. Louis $22.5 million to take another look at more than 500 drugs and failed drug candidates to see whether the university's researchers can find new uses for them, report the Wall Street Journal . "By harnessing the scientific expertise at this leading academic medical center, the collaboration seeks to discover entirely new uses for these compounds in areas of high patient need that might otherwise be left undiscovered," says Don Frail, chief scientific officer of Pfizer's Indications Discovery Unit, in a company press release. In the Pipeline's Derek Lowe says the deal could be "well worth it" if even one drug is successfully repurposed — especially since $20 million isn't much money to a company like Pfizer that routinely spends much more on research. The chances aren't great that anything new will come of this, Lowe adds, but the idea of a second pair of eyes going over the data is a good one. "One of the biggest problems in a large organization is group-think," he says. "People get convinced that something is a hot area because other people seem convinced that it's a hot area, and the same holds true for getting convinced that something's not worth working on."
Eyes on Pfizer
May 19, 2010