These old that have a second life

Thalidomide is a textbook case. Used against the nausea of ​​pregnant women, it has found a new use and now generates 12 billion dollars in sales per year. SSPL/UIG/Bridgeman Images

DECRYPTION – Laboratories and biotechs have specialized in the repositioning of molecules, which is less expensive and faster.

Giving a second life to old is the bet of more and more laboratories and biotechs. At a time when Europe is struggling to maintain patient access to certain treatments, repositioning is one of the levers used. These are molecules whose patent has fallen into the public domain, sold at low prices, sometimes in their generic version.

Among the textbook cases is Thalidomide, a controversial drug, once used for nausea in pregnant women. The American biotech Celgene bought it from the Grunenthal laboratory to develop it in multiple myeloma (a cancer of the bone marrow) and lymphoma (cancer of the blood) by changing in particular its mode of administration.

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This drug, renamed Thalomid, which has largely contributed to the growth of the company, now generates 12 billion dollars in annual sales. Biogen has bought it from the German Fumapharm, a treatment initially prescribed for psoriasis. Repositioned…

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