The 1983 US Orphan Drug Act (ODA) provided incentives to stimulate treatment product development for patients with rare disease. This article highlights a decade of ODA contributions to this goal for children with RDs.


An internal US Food and Drug Administration database was the information source for orphan designations, marketing approvals, and prevalence numbers for 2000 to 2009. Product categorization was based on the disease age of onset for which they received designation. Category 1 products were for diseases with onset exclusively in Childhood; Category 2 products were for diseases with onset at any age; and Category 3 products were for diseases with adult onset only. Disease prevalence distributions were analyzed by using population intervals of 20 000.


From 2000 to 2009, 1138 orphan drugs were designated and 148 received marketing approval, of which 38 (26%) were for pediatric diseases. The proportion of approvals for pediatric products increased from 17.5% (10 of 57) in the first half of the decade, to 30.8% (28 of 91) in the second. More products received designation and marketing approval for pediatric diseases with prevalence numbers fewer than 20 000 than for any other prevalence subgroup. The median disease prevalence for all pediatric orphan designations that received marketing approval was 8972. Among the pediatric orphan drug approvals categorized by therapeutic class, the endocrine/metabolic drugs had the largest representation (39%).


The ODA incentives have led to increased product availability for RDs overall, with an increasing number of marketing approvals for children this past decade.

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