Victims of Rare Diseases See New Focus on "Orphan Drug" Research

A recently introduced bill in the House of Representatives seeks to update legislation for “orphan” diseases and drugs. “Orphan” status denotes disorders that are extremely rare—generally afflicting 6,000 or fewer patients.

Pharmaceutical companies have no financial incentive to develop drugs and treatments for them because there aren’t enough users to pay the costs and sustain the consumer market. In order to encourage the development of drugs and other treatments for orphan diseases, the government provides incentives it doesn’t grant to more common disorders, such as easier and faster FDA approval, and extended periods for developing companies to market the drugs exclusively.

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