Drugmakers join effort to ferret out sport-enhancing ingredients

The Olympics is associated with competition, national pride and, unfortunately, doping, such as the scandals that cost Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson and U.S. track phenom Marion Jones their gold medals. 

British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) is on top of the current Olympics with a $31 million investment that includes anti-doping ads and a doping detection lab that will be used after the Olympics for biomarker research. 

Now, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) and BIO have joined a collaborative effort to fight the problem, reports in-PharmaTechnologist. The "2 Fields 1 Goal" initiative was created by the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) with the idea of identifying performance-enhancing ingredients before they make it into drugs, allowing authorities upfront knowledge to help with detection that can prevent abuse. 

There have already been results. WADA Communications Director Julie Masse tells in-PharmaTechnologist that through a four-year collaboration with Roche ($RHHBY), it now can detect a performance-enhancing ingredient in the anemia medication Cera, a drug some athletes believed could evade testing.

The mission now is to focus on pipeline drugs, rather than those already on the market, so there is a test before there is a problem. WADA asks drug companies to take a closer look at compounds and rate their potential for doping abuse. If a compound possesses a "probable or high risk" for doping potential after an internal assessment, pharma companies should consult with WADA immediately. From there, WADA will review the compound and potentially develop a test to detect it. In some cases, the ingredient might be left out.

"Working closely with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies to identify new potential doping compounds before they are commercially available will facilitate much faster development of detection methods," WADA Director General David Howman tells Play True magazine.

- read more from in-PharmaTechnologist 
- get more information from Play True 
- read Points to Consider (PDF)