Orphan drug

An orphan drug is a pharmaceutical agent that has been developed specifically to treat a rare medical condition, the condition itself being referred to as an orphan disease. The assignment of orphan status to a disease and to any drugs developed to treat it is a matter of public policy in many countries, and has resulted in medical breakthroughs that may not have otherwise been achieved due to the economics of drug research and development. In the US and EU it is easier to gain marketing approval for an orphan drug, and there may be other financial incentives such as extended exclusivity periods.

Contents

Orphan drug legislation

Orphan drugs generally follow the same regulatory development path as any other pharmaceutical product, in which testing focuses on pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, dosing, stability, safety and efficacy. However, some statistical burdens are lessened in an effort to maintain development momentum. For example, orphan drug regulations generally acknowledge the fact that it may not be possible to test 1,000 patients in a phase III clinical trial, as fewer than that number may be afflicted with the disease in question.

Since the market for any drug with such a limited application scope would, by definition, be small and thus largely unprofitable, government intervention is often required to motivate a manufacturer to address the need for an orphan drug. Critics of free market enterprise often cite this as a failure of free market economic systems.

The intervention by government on behalf of orphan drug development can take a variety of forms:

  • Tax incentives.
  • Enhanced patent protection and marketing rights.
  • Clinical research financial subsidization.
  • Creating a government-run enterprise to engage in research and development (see Crown corporation).

Orphan Drug Act

The Orphan Drug Act (ODA) of January 1983, passed in the United States, with lobbying from the National Organization for Rare Disorders and many other organizations,[1] is meant to encourage pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs for diseases that have a small market. Under the law, companies that develop such a drug (a drug for a disorder affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the United States) may sell it without competition for seven years,[2] and may get clinical trial tax incentives.[2]

Orphan drug designation means that the sponsor qualifies for certain benefits, such as reduced taxes, from the federal government. It does not mean the drug is safe and effective and legal to manufacture and market in the United States.

Rare Diseases Act

In 2002 President George W. Bush signed the Rare Diseases Act into law. This legislation amended the Public Health Service Act to establish the Office of Rare Diseases. It also increased funding for the development of treatments for patients with rare diseases.[3]

European Union

The European Union (EU) has enacted similar legislation, REGULATION (EC) No 141/2000, in which pharmaceuticals developed to treat rare diseases are referred to as "orphan medicinal products." The EU's definition of an orphan condition is broader than that of the USA, in that it also covers some tropical diseases that are primarily found in developing nations.[4] Orphan drug status granted by the European Commission gives marketing exclusivity in the EU for 10 years after approval.[5] The EU's legislation is administered by the Committee on Orphan Medicinal Products of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Regulatory harmonization

In an effort to reduce the burden on manufacturers applying for orphan drug status, the FDA and EMA agreed in late 2007 to utilize a common application process for both agencies. However, the two agencies will continue to maintain separate approval processes.[6]

Other countries

In addition to the United States and the European Union, legislation has been implemented by Japan, Singapore, and Australia have all passed legislation that offers subsidies and other incentives to encourage the development of drugs that treat orphan diseases.[7]

Effectiveness

Under the ODA and EU legislation, many orphan drugs have been developed, including drugs to treat glioma, multiple myeloma, cystic fibrosis, phenylketonuria, snake venom poisoning, and idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura.

The ODA is nearly universally acknowledged to be a success.[8] Before Congress enacted the ODA in 1983 only 38 drugs were approved in the USA specifically to treat orphan diseases.[9] In the USA, from January 1983 to June 2004, a total of 1,129 different orphan drug designations have been granted by the Office of Orphan Products Development (OOPD) and 249 orphan drugs have received marketing authorization. In contrast, the decade prior to 1983 saw fewer than ten such products come to market. From the passage of the ODA in 1983 until May 2010, the FDA approved 353 orphan drugs and granted orphan designations to 2,116 compounds. As of 2010, 200 of the roughly 7,000 officially designated orphan diseases have become treatable.[8] Some critics have questioned whether orphan drug legislation was the real cause of this increase (claiming that many of the new drugs were for disorders that were already being researched anyway, and would have had drugs developed regardless of the legislation), and whether the ODA has really stimulated the production of truly non-profitable drugs; the act also received some criticism for allowing some pharmaceutical companies to make a large profit off of drugs that have a small market but still sell for a high price.[2]

Although the European Medicines Agency grants market access its 27 member states, in practice, medicines only reach the market when each member state decides that its national health system will reimburse for the drug. For example, 35 orphan drugs reached the market in Belgium, 44 in the Netherlands, and 28 in Sweden in 2008. 35 such drugs reached the market in France and 23 in Italy in 2007.[10]

Orphan diseases

A rare disease, also referred to as an "orphan disease," is any disease that affects a small percentage of the population. Most rare diseases are genetic, and thus are present throughout the person's entire life, even if symptoms do not immediately appear. Many rare diseases appear early in life, and about 30 percent of children with rare diseases will die before reaching their fifth birthday.[11] With a single diagnosed patient only, ribose-5-phosphate isomerase deficiency is presently considered the rarest genetic disease. No single cutoff number has been agreed upon for which a disease is considered rare. A disease may be considered rare in one part of the world, or in a particular group of people, but still be common in another.

Research has found that as many as one-in-ten Americans suffers from rare disease.[12] Over 55 million people are estimated to suffer from a rare disease in Europe and in the US. Global estimates are between 5000 to 7000 rare diseases. New rare diseases are discovered every week and many have no treatments available. Currently, 350 orphan drugs have been approved for sale in the US.[13]

Cystic fibrosis

In the 1980s, cystic fibrosis patients rarely lived beyond their early teens. However, drugs like Pulmozyme and Tobramycin, both developed with aid from the ODA, revolutionized treatment for cystic fibrosis patients by significantly improving their quality of life and extending their life expectancies. Now, cystic fibrosis patients often survive into their thirties and some into their fifties.[3]

Homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia

The 1985 Nobel Prize for medicine went to two researchers for their work related to homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, an orphan disease that causes large and rapid increases in cholesterol levels. Their research led to the development of statin drugs that are commonly used to treat high cholesterol.[7]

Wilson's Disease

Penicillamine was developed to treat Wilson's Disease, a rare hereditary disease that can lead to a fatal accumulation of copper in the body. This drug was later found to be effective in treating arthritis.[7]

Activism

Numerous advocacy groups such as the National Organization for Rare Disorders, Global Genes Project, Children's Rare Disease Network, Abetalipoproteinemia Collaboration Foundation, Zellweger Baby Support Network, and the Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance have been founded in order to advocate on behalf of patients suffering from rare diseases with a particular emphasis on diseases that afflict children.[8]

Industry involvement

Key orphan drug developers including Synageva BioPharma Corp., Swedish Orphan Biovitrum, Shire plc, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Novartis, Genzyme, Lundbeck and BioMarin are leading the way in this growing industry. These pharmaceutical companies work together with national bodies such as the U.S.'s National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) and the European Organization for Rare Diseases (EURORDIS) to advance this field.

Research centers

Center for Orphan Drug Research

The Center for Orphan Drug Research at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy provides help to small companies with insufficient in-house expertise and resources in the areas of drug synthesis, formulation, pharmacometrics, and bio-analysis.[14]

Keck Graduate Institute Center for Rare Disease Therapies

The Keck Graduate Institute Center for Rare Disease Therapies (CRDT) in Claremont, California supports projects to revive potential orphan drugs whose development has stalled by identifying barriers to commercialization such as problems with formulation and bio-processing.[14]

See also

References

  1. ^ Henkel, John (1999). "Orphan Drug Law Matures into Medical Mainstay". FDA Consumer. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Fdac/features/1999/399_orph.html. Retrieved 14 February 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c Pollack, Andrew (30 April 1990). "Orphan Drug Law Spurs Debate". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?sec=health&res=9C0CE4DF1F3EF933A05757C0A966958260. Retrieved 15 February 2009. 
  3. ^ a b Illingworth, Patricia; Cohen, Jillian (2004). "Orphan Drug Policies: Implications for the United States, Canada, and Developing Countries". Health Law Journal 12: 183. 
  4. ^ "Orphan disease definition - Medical Dictionary definitions of popular medical terms easily defined on MedTerms". Medterms.com. 2002-08-25. http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=11418. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  5. ^ Lang, Michelle. "Pervasis drug candidate gets EU orphan drug status". Mass High Tech. http://www.masshightech.com/stories/2011/02/28/daily31-Pervasis-drug-candidate-gets-EU-orphan-drug-status.html. Retrieved 1 March 2011. 
  6. ^ Donna Young (2007-11-28). "U.S., EU Will Use Same Orphan Drug Application.". BioWorld News (Washington). Archived from the original on 2007-12-11. http://www.pharmasentry.com/news/newsletter.cfm?linkid=CE077395-1372-54C2-61CFB42D06A278FB. Retrieved 2008-01-06. "In an attempt to simplify the process for obtaining orphan status for medications targeting rare diseases, the FDA and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have created a common application. ... U.S. and European regulators still will conduct independent reviews of application submissions to ensure the data submitted meet the legal and scientific requirements of their respective jurisdictions, the agencies said." 
  7. ^ a b c Andrew Duffy (23 February 2002). "ORPHAN DISEASES A RARE OCCURRENCE: A desperate search for help; County family joins long list with rare diseases in seeking a miracle". Windsor Star (Ontario). 
  8. ^ a b c Armstrong, Walter (May 2010). "Pharma's Orphans". Pharmaceutical Executive. 
  9. ^ Rich Daly (5 September 2002). "House Offers Incentives For Development of 'Orphan' Drugs". Congressional Quarterly Daily Monitor. 
  10. ^ Denis, Alain; Mergaert, Lut. "Issues Surrounding Orphan Disease and Orphan Drug Policies in Europe". Applied Health Economics and Health Policy 8 (5): 341. 
  11. ^ http://www.siope.eu/SIOPE-EU/English/SIOPE-EU/Advocacy-Activities/Rare-Diseases/page.aspx/148
  12. ^ Andrew Duffy (25 January 2002). "Rare diseases' troubling questions". Cobourg Daily Star (Ontario). 
  13. ^ http://www.clinuvel.com/pharmaceutical-regulation/orphan-drugs
  14. ^ a b Wechsler, Jill (July 2008). "Celebrating 25 Years of Orphan Drugs". Pharmaceutical Technology. 

External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Orphan Drug — Der Begriff Orphan Arzneimittel oder Orphan drug (von englisch orphan, „die Waise“, aus griech. ὠρφανός) wurde 1983 erstmals für Arzneimittel verwendet, die für die Behandlung seltener Krankheiten eingesetzt werden. Rechtlich korrekt spricht man… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • orphan drug — (OR.fin drug) n. A drug used to treat a rare disease and for which the manufacturer receives special tax credits and marketing rights as an incentive to develop the drug. Example Citation: In 1983, hoping to encourage research, the government… …   New words

  • orphan drug — noun a) A medicinal drug which is effective in the treatment of some disease(s), but which is not manufactured or marketed because the demand is insufficient to cover the costs of supply …   Wiktionary

  • Orphan drug — A drug that is not being produced, often a medication useful only to a small population of patients. Also, drugs available outside the US but not approved by the FDA for sale in the US. * * * orphan drug n a drug that is not developed or marketed …   Medical dictionary

  • orphan drug — /ɔfən ˈdrʌg/ (say awfuhn drug) noun a medicine, vaccine, etc., which is intended to treat an orphan disease, and which, because it is not commercially viable, often requires special dispensation from regulation and government support to ensure… …   Australian English dictionary

  • orphan drug — or′phan drug′ n. pha a drug that remains undeveloped or is neglected because of limited potential for commercial gain • Etymology: 1975–80 …   From formal English to slang

  • orphan drug — noun Date: 1981 a drug that is not developed or marketed because its extremely limited use makes it unprofitable …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • orphan drug — Pharm. a drug that remains undeveloped or untested or is otherwise neglected because of limited potential for commercial gain. [1975 80] * * * …   Universalium

  • orphan drug — noun : a drug that is not developed or marketed because its extremely limited use (as in the treatment of a rare disease) makes it unprofitable …   Useful english dictionary

  • orphan drug — noun a synthetic pharmaceutical which remains commercially undeveloped …   English new terms dictionary


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