Orphan Drug Insurance policies Across the World – Healthcare Economist

How do you incentivize pharmaceutical firms and researchers to develop new medicine for uncommon ailments? Drug growth is dear and–by definition–uncommon ailments have a small market. One resolution to this drawback is that governments have used orphan drug insurance policies to supply financial incentives for innovators to analysis medicine for uncommon ailments. However which international locations have applied orphan drug insurance policies? And the way do these insurance policies differ all over the world?

A paper Chan et al. (2020) goals to reply these questions. The authors carried out web searches, emailed nationwide pharmacovigilance facilities, and carried out systematic literature evaluations of educational publications. They discovered that 92 out of 200 international locations (46.0%) had documentation on search. The standard illness prevalence threshold for an orphan designation averages 40 to 50 instances per 100 000 inhabitants. In addition they discover that:

Of the 37 international locations/areas with a longtime ODP [orphan drug policy] since 2013, 20 (54.1%) had been of low- or lower-middle-income, and 10 (27.0%) had been of upper-middle revenue. Nonetheless, on the time of this examine, international locations/areas with an ODP had been statistically wealthier (gross nationwide revenue per capita = $10 875 vs $3950, P < .001). Orphan drug insurance policies had been established in solely 19.4% of the 31 low-income international locations/areas; indicating a substantial coverage hole in these international locations/areas.

From the map, one can clearly see that orphan drug insurance policies are extra frequent in wealthier international locations.

Supply: Worth in Well being.

How do these international locations outline ailments eligible for orphan drug designation?

…most international locations/areas adhered to the European Union definition of low prevalence (0.05%), whereas others adopted the variety of prevalent instances, akin to Australia (<2000), South Korea (<20 000), and the US (<200 000). International locations/areas akin to Chile, Kenya, Peru, and Singapore required the illness severity to be “life threatening” and “‘severely-’ or ‘chronically-’ debilitating.” 

Many international locations had decreased proof requirements for approval. Many additionally granted prolonged patent intervals to orphan medicine to incentivize innovation in addition to decreased affected person price sharing to incentivize affected person entry.

Patent safety within the type of market exclusivity was offered for every orphan drug with length starting from 5 years (Australia), 7 years (United States), Eight years, or 8.5 years for pediatric orphan medicine (Canada) to 10 years (European Union, Japan, Taiwan)…

China presents tax reductions to scale back value-added tax in the course of the buying means of orphan medicine. Sufferers with uncommon ailments are capable of acquire medicine free or at low costs from authorities or nongovernment group subsidies in Colombia and Peru. In Canada and China, orphan medicine will be imported via the Particular Entry Programme or pathways for orphan medicine which can be “extremely urgently wanted in medical care,”


  • Chan AY, Chan VK, Olsson S, Fan M, Jit M, Gong M, Zhang S, Ge M, Pathadka S, Chung CC, Chung BH. Entry and Unmet Wants of Orphan Medication in 194 International locations and 6 Areas: A World Coverage Overview With Content material Evaluation. Worth in Well being. 2020 Oct 31.

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