Pharmaceutical firms will share neglected compounds with British researchers
'Scientist Holds And Examine Samples' [Shutterstock]

LONDON (Reuters) - A group of seven leading drugmakers has agreed to share an array of neglected experimental medicines with British academic researchers in the latest example of the deepening ties between industry and external scientists.

British business minister Vince Cable announced the new partnership on Tuesday between the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the companies, under which the researchers will gain access to "deprioritized" pharmaceutical compounds.

Often these compounds have been dropped from development because they are not sufficiently effective against a particular condition, but they may still be useful against other diseases with shared biological pathways.

AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Takeda and UCB have all signed up to the scheme, which builds on the success of an earlier two-way program between AstraZeneca and the MRC.

One project under that original 2011 program involves a drug designed originally to treat acid reflux disease that has now been utilized as a treatment for chronic cough and is being tested in clinical trials.

While drugmakers have traditionally been reluctant to share their compounds, there is a growing recognition that outside experts may be able to unlock value by taking a different approach, resulting in shared profits between companies and academic institutions.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by David Goodman)

[Image: "Scientist Holds And Examine Samples," via Shutterstock]