Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) has been clearing out the junk drawer of late, but rather than sending its unwanted drugs to the trash bin, the giant drugmaker is striking deals with its comrades to take them off its hands.

Last month Pfizer pawned its heart drug ApoA-I Milano off on The Medicines Company (NASDAQ:MDCO), receiving $10 million up front. Pfizer could also get single-digit royalty payments and another $410 million in milestone payments if the drug actually works. Getting something for the drug that hasn't progressed very far since Pfizer acquired it in 2004 isn't that bad until you realize that Pfizer paid $1.3 billion to acquire Esperion Therapeutics, the original owner of the drug. Ouch.

Then yesterday Pfizer announced that it was licensing potential melanoma treatment tremelimumab to Debiopharm. The drug failed its phase 3 trial in 2008, but Debiopharm seems to think that the drug might work on a specific subset of patients. Using biomarkers to select the correct patients got Roche's Herceptin and GlaxoSmithKline's (NYSE:GSK) Tykerb approved, and more recently it was discovered that Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) and Bristol-Myers Squibb's (NYSE:BMY) Erbitux and Amgen's (NASDAQ:AMGN) Vectibix work on patients whose tumors have a specific genetic makeup. Still, I wouldn't pencil in revenue just yet; melanoma is one tough cancer to fight.

The companies didn't disclose terms, but Debiopharm will be responsible for running the phase 3 trials and then Pfizer will market the drug if it works. It appears Pfizer is reducing its risk by getting someone else to pay for the clinical work in exchange for a cut of the profits if the drug makes it to market.

Cleaning house may be necessary, but Pfizer is really in a no-win situation. If ApoA-I Milano and tremelimumab fail, the company gets nothing, but if either turn out to work investors will question why Pfizer gave away part of a valuable asset.

No one ever said you could get rich from a garage sale.

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Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Fool owns shares of GlaxoSmithKline and has a disclosure policy.