The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has added the United States group Pfizer to the list of pharmaceutical companies with which it maintains collaboration agreements.
In a deal described by WADA director general David Howman as "a win-win for both parties", the two organisations have signed a long-term agreement enabling them to exchange information to further the battle against the misuse by athletes of performance-enhancing drugs.
The agreement, which covers all new medicines being developed by Pfizer, the company behind Viagra, will allow the US group to share information on pipeline products with a potential for athletic performance misuse, while permitting WADA to pass on intelligence about substances that are being abused by athletes.
The Montreal-based agency already has global agreements with Roche, Amgen, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Novartis, as well as the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA).
As part of this latest agreement, WADA said that medicines in development would be reviewed by Pfizer scientists specifically to identify substances with a significant risk of abuse in sport.
The scientists would look for "any similarity to the pharmacological characteristics of existing performance-enhancing substances and assess how they work in the human body".
This would include stimulatory effects or improved strength and physical endurance.
Any new medicines found to have these characteristics are to be "voluntarily highlighted" by Pfizer to WADA.
Confidential scientific data related to them may be transferred by Pfizer on a case-by-case basis.
Howman said that collaborating with pharmaceutical companies to permit the identification of medicinal substances of interest to dopers was a "central aspect of WADA's strategy" and allowed the agency to "develop detection methods at a much faster rate".
The Pfizer partnership, he said, comes at a "crucial time", with the introduction of the revised World Anti-Doping Code on January 1 just weeks away.
For Pfizer, Peter Honig, a senior vice-president, said the company was "pleased to expand our global efforts to mitigate the abuse of pharmaceutical compounds by officially partnering with WADA to deter athletic doping".
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