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Teaching old drugs new tricks: Why companies reposition medicines

Mullaney, I. (2012) Teaching old drugs new tricks: Why companies reposition medicines. The Conversation, 12 February .

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Many pharmaceutical companies are having to re-examine their product portfolio because of the difficult economic climate. New uses for established drugs affords a way for these companies to maximise financial return on their initial investment on various products.

Last year, it was reported that Ambien, a drug manufactured by Sanofi Aventis, was having some success in waking patients from long-term coma. These patients, many of whom were brain damaged, showed a positive response to the drug.

This novel use of the drug was all the more surprising since Ambien (also known as zolpidem) was developed for treating insomnia and is classified as a hypnotic or sleep-inducing compound.

Interestingly, the use of an established medicine for a newer therapeutic purpose is becoming increasingly common. Aspirin, a drug that’s been in use in some form or other for many hundreds of years was originally employed, and indeed still is, as a mild pain-relieving analgesic. But it’s probably more commonly used today as an antiplatelet agent helping to prevent blood clotting that can occur in thromboembolic disease.

Item Type: Non-refereed Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Pharmacy
Publisher: The Conversation Media Group
Copyright: The Author
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