NIH grant-funded drugs are being repurposed for COVID-19, says GlobalData

Drugs being developed for COVID-19 were awarded the highest number of SBIR/STTR funding grants, at 187 grants. Most grants awarded to drugs that are currently indicated for COVID-19 were awarded pre-2020, before the pandemic began, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Madeleine Roche MSc, Analyst at GlobalData comments: “It is likely that many companies received funding for a platform technology funded by the NIH or for a drug or technology that has since been repurposed. It is unclear how many of these companies have considered repurposing drugs for COVID-19 to revitalize development and capitalize on the pandemic, with the hope that previously unsuccessful drugs could be rushed through to the market if indicated for COVID-19.”

Only 14% of grants have been awarded since 2015, with the most being awarded in 2010. These grants were awarded before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, indicating that the drug was repurposed from its original indication after the pandemic began.

Roche continues, “The COVID-19 pandemic shed a light on the importance of funding for drug development in this crucial therapy area. These programs allocate hundreds of grants each year for infectious disease drug candidate commercialization, especially at crucial early stages of development.”

The infectious disease therapy area has been awarded the highest number of National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants over the last 20 years, and almost 94% of SBIR and STTR grants for infectious diseases were awarded at the Discovery and Preclinical development stages where deal stage refers to the stage of development of a drug at the time of the deal.

Roche concludes, “Drugs that have received NIH grants since the COVID-19 pandemic began could have a greater chance at clinical development than those from companies repurposing drugs. NIH funding supports the advancement of drug development towards commercialization, and it therefore seems likely that those companies with SBIR/STTR funding given for innovative COVID-19 assets will benefit from accelerated drug development.”

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