Pfizer inks $25m research pact

By Kirsty Barnes

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Research, University, Innovation, Pfizer

Pfizer has inked an "innovative" research pact with St Louis-based
Washington University to the tune of $25m.

Immuno-inflammatory disorders such as arthritis, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, along with immuno-inflammatory processes which can underlie other illnesses such as chronic pain, diabetes, obesity and cancer, will be the centrepiece of the partnership. This particular therapy area is one that Pfizer said it has a particular interest in and the chosen university is known to specialise in. The pair have had a relationship since 1982. However, this particular five-year collaboration has been labelled by Pfizer as "a new model of partnership between academia and industry".​ Washington University Chancellor Mark Wrighton described it as "innovative"​ and said: "We believe it will serve as a new paradigm for other academic-industry collaborations".​ According to Pfizer, when pharmaceutical companies provide funding to academic institutions they typically do so for research projects primarily conceived and conducted independently by the university researchers. However, this "new model"​ differs because it brings together University and Pfizer scientists to jointly propose, design and carry out research projects and "stresses equality in intellectual input, commitment and execution by both parties",​ the firm said. Under the new agreement, research on immuno-inflammatory disorders will occur in laboratories at Washington University and at Pfizer, with its Chesterfield, Missouri location named as one likely site of the work. In addition to its focus on "equality",​ Pfizer said that its "new model"​ provides "a mechanism to develop future research talent in immuno-inflammatory diseases, which is so central to many disease processes",​ through a fellowship program that is has on offer with the university. "It [the model]… represents an innovative new framework under which academic and industry researchers can collaborate in a way that is mutually advantageous to the University and the company",​ said Jeffrey Gordon, director of the University's Center for Genome Sciences. "By partnering more closely from a project's conception to its completion, both Washington University and Pfizer are hoping to more efficiently capture research innovations that can be readily applied to clinical care".​ Innovation has been lacking within big pharma pipelines for a number of years and compared with 20 years ago there are fewer new drugs being produced. Less than one-third of the drugs that do reach the market earn enough money to match or exceed the average R&D cost per new medicine, which averages $800m. As such the industry is grabbing out at any opportunity it sees that could lead it to its next big market hit and mergers, collaborative risk-sharing, joint ventures and other co-promotion arrangements between big pharmaceutical and smaller life sciences firms are increasing in number, as are a plethora of research arrangements with academia. AstraZeneca, for example, has also just announced a new three year collaboration with the University of Texas' MD Anderson Cancer Center to conduct research that could lead to new treatments to prevent post-chemotherapy pain, of which the financial terms remain undisclosed.

Related topics: Preclinical Research, Preclinical

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