Orphan medicinal products

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Patients suffering from rare diseases deserve the same quality of treatment as other patients within the European Union.

Given the small numbers of patients affected by rare diseases, the pharmaceutical industry has been reluctant in the past to invest in the research and development of medicinal products to treat them.

The EU introduced new legislation in 2000 with the aim of providing incentives for the development of medicines for rare diseases (so-called orphan medicinal products).

Orphan medicinal products

Latest orphan medicinal products

Latest orphan designations

EU action on orphan medicinal products

The EU Regulation on orphan medicinal products establishes a centralised procedure for the designation of orphan medicinal products and puts in place incentives for their research, development and marketing.

Pharmaceutical companies can benefit from incentives such as fee waivers, scientific assistance for marketing authorisation and the possibility of an EU marketing authorisation with a 10-year market exclusivity period.

The Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products (COMP) in the European Medicines Agency, is responsible for the scientific examination of applications for approval of orphan medicinal products.

Review of EU orphan legislation

Impact of EU orphan regulation

Since 2000, the European Commission has published a number of reports on orphan medicinal products. They reveal an annual increase in the number of orphan medicinal products being authorised, since the Regulation entered into force.

  • Inventory of EU and national incentives to support research and development:
  • 2006 report on the application of EU Orphan Regulation

Guidelines on EU orphan medicines legislation

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