Send to

Choose Destination
Respirology. 2015 Apr;20(3):361-9. doi: 10.1111/resp.12498. Epub 2015 Feb 26.

Delayed access to treatments for rare diseases: who's to blame?

Author information

InterMune Canada, Inc.*, Oakville, Ontario, Canada.


The development and commercialization of drugs for rare diseases, termed 'orphan drugs', has historically been economically unattractive. However, because of the introduction of legislation that provides financial and regulatory incentives for the development of orphan drugs, new developments are making their way through the regulatory approval processes. Unfortunately, delays in availability of new drugs for treating rare disease continue to persist. This paper reviews the approach of several regulatory jurisdictions to orphan drugs in an effort to determine their relative effectiveness in providing patient access. Generally speaking, regulatory authorities across jurisdictions have recognized the need to enhance timely access to safe, effective treatment for patients with rare diseases and have been able to shift the approval timelines for access to new care. The greater impediment to orphan drug access appears to be funding, particularly in publicly sponsored health-care systems. Redundancies in federal and provincial reviews of orphan drugs can result in significant delays in access to new drugs. Clearly, more must be done to accelerate access to the treatments so desperately needed by patients. Public payers must be held accountable for their process and decisions--especially for rare disease therapies.


market access; orphan drug; rare disease; regulatory approval; reimbursement

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center