The process of finding new uses for old things is not always intentional. Accidental discoveries sometimes enable firms to serve unexpected customers. Viagra and Minoxidil are examples of such happy accidents. The discovery that Viaga usage was associated with penile erections in some men was initially given little attention by researchers from Pfizer Pharmaceuticals when this "side effect" was first noted in clinical trails. The drug was originally developed to be a treatment for hypertension, and after that failed, it was tested as a treatment for angina. Once again the drug failed. But this time Pfizer researchers followed up on the side effect from their earlier study. They ran clinical trials of Viagra as a treatment for erectile dysfunction, which led them to discover a new application for this existing drug. Similarly, Minoxidil was originally sold in tablet form as a treatment for high blood pressure. A side effect of this medicine was unwanted hair growth. So researchers from Upjohn started examining if it could be applied to the scalp to increase hair growth in balding men. Significant growth was observed in more than half the subjects who used it, and Minoxidil is now marketed in the United States by Upjohn as Rogaine. Researchers at both Pfizer and Upjohn didn't anticipate these side effects, but both groups were creative because they were observant and persistent enough to find new use for an existing medication. In the right hands, nothing succeeds like failure.
Source: Weird Ideas That Work: 11 1/2 Practices for Promoting, Managing, and Sustaining Innovation, Pages: 28
Contributed by: ~C4Chaos