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Eli Lilly and Merck Open “Chemical Libraries” to TB Researchers

October 8th, 2008

Eli Lilly and Company and Merck Pharmaceutical Corp. have opened their valuable “molecular libraries” to scientists at the Infectious Disease Research Initiative (IDRI). Researchers will test the compounds for effectiveness in combating tuberculosis. Drug-resistant TB has become a major public health concern around the world.

Chemical compound libraries, which detail the structure and chemistry of potential drug components, are one of pharmaceutical companies’ most valuable and closely held assets. But the need for new TB treatments is so urgent that the firms were persuaded to put public health needs above potential profits.

World-wide, up to 2 billion people are infected with tuberculosis. Every year, roughly 1.5 million people die from the disease, which is easily spread by coughing. Drug-resistant strains have turned up in nearly 50 countries, including the United States.

Dr. Paul Farmer, the renowned advocate for health care for the poor in Haiti and around the world, helped convince the companies to take this important step. “I think a lot of people underestimate how much goodwill there can be in a huge company,” he said. Farmer serves on the nonprofit Lilly TB Drug Discovery Initiative.

The Missionary Oblates are in regular dialog with both Eli Lilly and Merck, in our position as shareholders concerned about the need for increased research in neglected diseases.


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