UPDATE 1-Pfizer in research collaboration with Medco

Wed Oct 26, 2011 4:37pm EDT

* Deal aimed at better matching patients with treatments

* To identify subgroups of patients likely to benefit

Oct 26, Reuters - Pfizer Inc , the world's largest drugmaker, and pharmacy benefit manager Medco Health Solutions Inc said on Wednesday they had set up a research collaboration aimed at better identifying the patients most likely to be helped by a new medicine.

With better understanding of the human genome and genetic profiles, the companies believe new drugs can be targeting to particular subgroups of patients genetically predisposed to benefit from the treatments.

For example, Pfizer's new lung cancer drug, crizotinib, only works on a small percentage of patients with a specific genetic mutation. It was developed along with a companion diagnostic to identify those patients.

In the past, such a drug might have been written off as a failure because the majority of lung cancer patients would have received no benefit from the medicine.

Under the agreement, Pfizer and Medco will collaborate to identify and evaluate patient subgroups in which experimental and currently marketed drugs are shown to be most effective, the companies said.

Medco, which is in the process of being acquired by rival Express Scripts Inc , has conducted several studies in recent years aimed at advancing the field of so-called personalized medicine.

"In the end, the goal is treating the right patients with the right medicines to improve their health," Freda Lewis-Hall, Pfizer's chief medical officer, said in a statement.

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