Medical Research Council Collaboration

Between 2014 and 2018, Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies collaborated with the UK-based Medical Research Council (MRC) to make available a ‘virtual library’ of compounds for use by academic researchers in the UK.1,2,3


Medical Research Council


The library was made up of a number of deprioritised compounds and included both clinical (those already tested in humans) and preclinical compounds, which had been initially developed for a wide range of diseases including for cancer, respiratory disease, inflamatory diseases, mental health conditions and diabetes.1,2,3

Supplied by AstraZenca, GSK, J&J, Lilly, Pfizer, Takeda and UCB, the compounds underwent some form of industry development, but all stalled at some point in early testing – often because they are not sufficiently effective against the disease in question. However, these compounds may still be valuable to researchers, who can use them for studies with other diseases.1,2,3

To date, the MRC has invited UK scientists to apply to access the compounds in medical research studies on three separate occasions in 2014, 2016 and 2018.1,2,3 The most recent call for applications in 2018, provided access to 24 deprioritised compounds provided by AstraZenca, Pfizer, Takeda and J&J.3

One of Pfizer's compounds was selected by the University of Oxford in a study investigating potential anti-despressants.4

It’s hoped that by making these compounds available to a wider community of researchers, it could lead to the development of new medicines for a variety of conditions.



  1. Medical Research Council, 8 Dec 2014, World’s largest collection of deprioritised pharma compounds opens to researchers
  2. Medical Research Council , 14 Sept 2016, ‘Library’ of nearly 50 de-prioritised pharma compounds opens to researchers
  3. Medical Research Council , Updated March 2018, Guidance for use of the MRC-Industry Asset Sharing Initiative in Experimental Medicine Challenge Grant Applications
  4. UK Research and Innovation. MICA: 5-HT4 receptor activation as a novel mechanism of antidepressant action. August 2017.


PP-PFE-GBR-4102 / November 2021