NEW YORK (AP) -- Three major U.S. drugmakers, Eli Lilly and Co., Merck & Co. and Pfizer Inc., said Tuesday they have formed a not-for-profit company in Asia to focus on cancer research and treatments.
The companies said they formed the Asian Cancer Research Group to focus on the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Asia, including lung and gastric cancers.
They did not say in a news release how much funding they were committing to the project.
Over the next two years, Lilly, Merck and Pfizer said they will create an extensive database that will be made available to researchers.
"The goal of the Asian Cancer Research Group is to improve the knowledge of cancers prevalent in Asia and to accelerate drug discovery efforts by freely sharing the resulting data with the scientific community," the companies said.
They said as many as 40 percent of patients with lung cancer in Asia demonstrate a mutation that is relatively rare in Western patients, suggesting a different research approach is needed for developing treatments. Meanwhile, the companies said gastric cancer is the second largest cause of cancer death in the world, killing more than 630,000 patients per year, more people than all cancers combined in the United States.
Eli Lilly is based in Indianapolis, Merck is based in Whitehouse Station, N.J., and Pfizer is based in New York.