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A pilot program launched by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will help researchers probe whether existing pharmaceutical candidate drugs can be repurposed (http://1.usa.gov/1962Sm5).
It takes on average 13 years to take a candidate drug from discovery to approval, and 95% of compounds fail somewhere along the way, according to NCATS. Drug companies have large portfolios of drug compounds that have made it through various stages of development and may have some safety data available. The pilot program aims to see if some of these compounds might find new uses for diseases other than those they were initially intended to treat.
Kuehn BM. NIH Funds Pilot Program to Repurpose Drug Candidates for New Uses. JAMA. 2013;310(4):361. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.50146