How Big Pharma Makes Big Profits on Orphan Drugs
Orphan drugs treat rare medical conditions afflicting fewer than 200,000 Americans. Thanks to landmark legislation passed in the 1980s, millions of Americans with rare diseases have hope for cures. Unfortunately, what was envisioned as a protection for desperate patients has become a major profit-driver for Big Pharma.
The Orphan Drug Act
The Orphan Drug Act passed in 1983 to encourage pharmaceutical companies to invest in treatments for rare diseases – so-called “orphan diseases” that had been ignored because their small patient populations made them unprofitable.
The intent was that through incentives included in the Orphan Drug Act, drug makers could break even or possibly post modest profits for developing and manufacturing drugs to treat orphan diseases.