Boost for anti-doping fight, detection of banned substances after agreement signed between WADA and Pfizer Inc.

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The current lag between the use of some doping substances and the development of tests for their detection could be shortened or even eliminated due to the signing of a long-term global agreement between the pharmaceutical company Pfizer and the World Anti Doping Agency.

WADA today announced details of the agreement, which will see Pfizer and WADA exchange information. The agency will inform the company about substances that are being abused by athletes, enabling the latter to work with its own scientists and determine which new pipeline products may have similar effects.

Information about these products will be given to WADA.

“Any new medicines in Pfizer’s pipeline found to have performance-enhancing characteristics will be voluntarily highlighted by Pfizer to WADA under this agreement, and confidential scientific data relating to them may be transferred by Pfizer on a case-by-case basis so that work by WADA can begin on detection methods in sports,” said the agency in the announcement.

WADA Director General David Howman said that the agreement was a big step forward. “A central aspect of WADA’s strategy is to collaborate with pharmaceutical companies so that medicinal substances of interest to dopers can be identified,” he said.

“In turn, this will allow us to develop detection methods at a much faster rate. Striking this partnership with Pfizer is a win-win for both parties, and comes at a crucial time with the introduction of the revised World Anti-Doping Code just weeks away.”

A number of riders were nabbed during the 2008 Tour de France when cooperation between WADA and another pharmaceutical company, Roche Pharmaceuticals, led to the agency and the UCI being able to look out for the EPO-like substance CERA.

Riders used it in the race believing that it was undetectable, but Riccardo Ricco, Stefan Schumacher, Bernhard Kohl and Leonardo Piepoli were all nabbed. Another rider, Davide Rebellin, was found positive when tests from the Olympic Games road race were reanalysed.

WADA will hope that a similar pattern is followed in relation to its agreement with Pfizer.

That company’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Safety and Regulatory Affairs Peter Honig explained the reason for the agreement. “Pfizer takes seriously the integrity of science and the use of our innovative medicines only for legitimate health purposes.

“We are pleased to expand our global efforts to mitigate the abuse of pharmaceutical compounds by officially partnering with WADA to deter athletic doping.”

In addition to having a direct effect on being able to detect the use of products from that company, the agreement also raises the likelihood of other pharmaceutical agencies following suit and coming to similar agreements with WADA.

Indeed a joint declaration titled Cooperation in the Fight against Doping in Sport was signed between WADA and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations in July 2010.

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