Did you know that Viagra was first developed as a drug for heart disease, before it became a drug for erectile dysfunction? Or that Rogaine, which is now a baldness treatment, was originally used to treat high blood pressure?
One of the main expenses drug companies have when it comes to developing new medicines is testing these drugs, but if they can find new uses for drugs that have ALREADY been tested, the process will be much quicker (and more profitable).
History was made when Pfizer discovered that an angina treatment they were testing didn't work, but it DID give male volunteers a prolonged erection. In the November 27th edition of the Guardian, Julia Kollewe quotes Ian Osterloh, one of the scientists who developed the drug, as saying, "None of us at Pfizer thought much of the side-effect at the time. I remember thinking that even if it did work, who would want to take a drug on a Wednesday to get an erection on a Saturday?" (Little did he know).
Kollewe quotes former GlaxoSmithKline executive Farid Khan as saying, "There will be no more blockbusters and it's a massive worry for the industry. Existing drugs have been shown to be safe in patients, so if these drugs could be found to work for other diseases, then this would drastically reduce drug development costs and risks. Of 30,000 drugs in the world, 25,000 are ex-patent--it's a free-for-all."
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