Health and Medicine

Drugs and Medicines

What is meant by the term orphan drugs?

Orphan drugs are intended to treat diseases that affect fewer than 200,000 Americans. With little chance of making money, a drug company is not likely to undertake the necessary research and expense of finding drugs that might treat these diseases. Also, if the drug is a naturally occurring substance, it cannot be patented in the United States, and companies are reluctant to invest money in such a medication when it cannot be protected against exploitation by competing drug companies. Encouragingly, the Orphan Drug Act of 1983 offers a number of incentives to drug companies to encourage development of these drugs. The act has provided hope for millions of people with rare and otherwise untreatable conditions.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Science Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App