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AstraZeneca rejected drugs get 2nd look

March 14, 2017

AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN) is reconsidering some of its rejected drugs, as they could possess potential in curing a disease they were not initially meant to treat. This is through its Emerging Innovations Unit which is headed by Kumar Srinivasan.

The Emerging Innovations Unit consists of a team of nine and the division is currently looking at 20 treatments that had been shelved after they failed to treat the conditions they were meant for. The unit is also looking at around 45 molecules that were never tested on humans.

Among the current projects that the unit is handling is a drug that was intended to be a treatment for cancer but which now has potential as a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. On this one the unit is partnering with Yale University’s medical school.

A couple of years ago, the output from the research and development arm of AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN) was among the worst in the sector but the pharmaceutical firm is now engaged in building credibility, especially among academic scientists. In this regard the pharmaceutical firm is availing its unwanted molecules to researchers hoping that will put it ahead of competitors, since most of them hardly set aside resources for rejected drugs.

Among the big pharmaceutical companies, none are giving out unwanted drugs the way AstraZeneca is doing. An exception to that is Novartis AG (ADR) (NYSE:NVS) which gave three rejected drugs to a startup in the UK through a licensing deal. The startup is now trying out the drugs on diseases and conditions that the Swiss firm would not have considered. If the startup goes on to succeed, Novartis Ag will earn royalties. Novartis also has equity in the startup.

On The Mend

This strategy by AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN) was put in place around five years ago after one of the company’s best-selling drugs declined in sales after losing patent protection. Besides reconsidering rejected drugs, the pharmaceutical firm also started compensating its scientists on the basis of the drug candidates that reached late-stage testing instead of the number of drug candidates produced, as was previously the case.

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