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NIH Teams up with Drug Companies to fight Diseases

Update Date: Feb 04, 2014 11:56 AM EST

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that it would team up with several pharmaceutical companies and patient advocacy groups in order to fight certain diseases. This first-ever team of researchers will work together on research aimed to improve treatments for Alzheimer's disease, type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

According to the NIH, which announced the partnership today, the projects will last anywhere from three to five years. The partners, who include Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Merck, Eli Lilly and Company, Sanofi, AbbVie, Biogen Idec, and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, will invest over $230 million over the next five years.

"We believe this partnership is an important first step and represents the most sweeping effort to date to tackle this vital issue," NIH director, Francis Collins stated according to the Washington Post.

The participants of the partnership hope that by joining together, they could avoid the "valley of death" that kills roughly 95 percent of drugs before they are even introduced to the market, according to NBC News. Before this venture, the NIH would typically pay for early research on some kind of disease. If the research is promising, the NIH will license the rights over to a commercial company that will attempt to create a drug. This process is often slow, long and highly expensive.

"Currently, we are investing a great deal of money and time in avenues with high failure rates, while patients and their families wait," said Collins. "The good news is that recent dramatic advances in basic research are opening new windows of opportunity for therapeutics. But this challenge is beyond the scope of any one of us and it's time to work together in new ways to increase our collective odds of success."

As a part of this new venture, the research data compiled from their pilot and future programs will be shared with the public. The partnership also forbids any of the drug-manufacturing companies from using the information to create new drugs before releasing the project information to the public.

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