"More than 450 applications for orphan designation have been submitted between April 2000 and April 2005 and, of those, more than 260 have been designated and 22 have gone on to receive a marketing authorisation," concludes a Commission report on the impact of the first five years of the EU's orphan medicine regulation.
According to the Commission, the response to the orphan legislation, which provides for the pharma companies a 10-year market exclusivity for the orphan medicinal products, reduction of EMEA fees and support for R&D, has "far exceeded initial expectations".
Biotech industry has welcomed the report acknowledging the progress made, but states that "timely and equitable access for patients to the approved medicines remains an issue". It also claims that "additional economic incentives in most member states are still needed as some member states are delaying reimbursement of orphan drugs, thus limiting patient access to these drugs".
Eurodis, the umbrella patient organisation for rare disease patients in Europe, states that, often, when the products are available, patients cannot afford them, which is "not only inequitable because patient access to orphan drugs depends on the country where they live, but it is also totally unethical".