Healthcare: On the Agenda - AstraZeneca in free research deal

In a nutshell

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has struck a landmark deal to share potential drugs with researchers for free, in a bid to aid the search for new medicines. The AngloSwedish drugs firm has formed an agreement with the Medical Research Council to grant full access to more than 20 potential new drugs that have ceased being researched.

Why is it important?

Drug development is a long, complex and expensive process, with the average cost of bringing a new medicine to market currently more than £630m. For new medicines to become available to patients, new chemical compounds must be developed that have the potential to treat or prevent a specific disease. Many compounds undergo early trials but are then put on hold for a variety of reasons.

How will it work?

As part of the collaboration with AstraZeneca, the MRC is inviting research proposals from across the UK academic community to use 22 compounds in new areas. The MRC will select the best proposals and award up to £10m to fund research across a broad range of diseases.

PR strategy

AstraZeneca's in-house team handled the media outreach for the announcement. The news came on the same day that David Cameron announced a strategy to increase partnerships between industry, scientists and the NHS.

Media coverage

The landmark deal was covered extensively in the UK media, including in The Daily Telegraph, the Financial Times and trade title InPharm.

22 - Number of compounds that will be available

£630m - Average cost of bringing a new drug to market.

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