Feb. 4 (Bloomberg) — Pfizer Inc., Eli Lilly & Co. and eight other large drugmakers will partner with the U.S. government in a $230 million effort to identify new approaches to treat Alzheimer's, diabetes, lupus and arthritis.

Data generated from the work will be made public for other scientists to use, a move that the U.S. National Institutes of Health called groundbreaking. The targeted diseases are some of the most prevalent conditions among Americans, costing the nation billions of dollars in treatment and lost productivity.

The venture may be particularly important in Alzheimer's research. Since 1998, there have been more than 100 attempts to develop a treatment, and all have failed. The last two years have featured setbacks by both Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. Sanofi Chief Executive Officer Chris Viehbacher has said his company won't pursue therapies there because the science isn't advanced enough to justify the risks and cost to develop a drug.

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