Drug discovery still entails a matter of luck. The average length of time from discovery of a possible compound to its approval is more than 13 years, and the failure rate exceeds 95 percent. And yet these are the odds for the compounds that enter the drug pipeline. For each compound that enters the drug discovery path– a costly venture averaging more than $1 billion per successful drug–there are of thousands of compounds that remain partially developed. Hoping to increase the chances of success for these underdeveloped compounds, the National Institutes of Health has funded $12.7 million to match nine academic research groups with a selection of pharmaceutical industry compounds to explore new treatments for patients in eight disease areas including Alzheimer’s disease, alcohol and nicotine dependence, and schizophrenia. The collaborative pilot initiative, called Discovering New Therapeutic Uses for Existing Molecules, is led by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and funded by the NIH Common Fund.
–National Institutes of Health (NIH)