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Health Agencies Update
June 27, 2012

Mining Cast-off Drugs

JAMA. 2012;307(24):2578. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.7066

Scientists will soon be able to test compounds from pharmaceutical companies' pipelines for new uses through a pilot program the National Institutes of Health is launching in partnership with Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Eli Lilly.

Many drugs in the pharmaceutical pipeline turn out to be ineffective for the condition they were initially intended to treat, but sometimes these drugs prove useful for other conditions. For example, azidothymidine was initially developed as a cancer treatment; the drug did not suceed as a treatment for cancer, but it proved to be a useful treatment for HIV infection.