The drug giant said yesterday that it'll provide $22.5 million to Washington University researchers over the next five years to study the potential of more than 500 drugs in new indications. The drugs are already approved or have been in the clinic for other indications; thus the double-dipping.
Studying drugs for additional indications makes sense. Proteins with which the drugs interact are often involved with different diseases in the body. Sometimes they're fairly related. Pfizer and Amgen's
And since the drugs have already been tested in the clinic, they have an established safety profile that a newly developed drug wouldn't have.
I just don't see why Pfizer can't do this on its own. Perhaps research scientists can simply do the work more cheaply. But if that were the case, why wouldn't Pfizer direct a clinical research organization (CRO) to run the studies instead? After all, CROs like Covance
It seems like Pfizer is saying, "We have no idea what the heck these molecules might be good for. Here's some cash. Help us out."
There's nothing inherently wrong with that; one hit could easily pay for the initial grant. But I'd rather invest in companies that are able to hire researchers capable of making those discoveries, rather than renting them from a university.
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Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., has perfected the two-sided sterile dip. He doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Fool's disclosure policy makes sure Brian has his own bowl of dip at parties -- just in case.