Stories

Ripe target for Trump: Pharmaceuticals abusing 'orphan drug' law

Kaiser Health News reports that pharmaceutical companies are taking advantage of the Orphan Drug Act — a law aimed at rare diseases — to maximize profits.

What's the Orphan Drug Act?: It encourages drug manufacturers to develop "orphan drugs" to treat diseases affecting fewer than 200,000 people by providing financial incentives and seven years of exclusive production.

What's happened?: Drugmakers have received orphan status for medicines that were previously approved for mass market use or had received orphan status previously by testing them against new, rare diseases. Seven of the 10 top selling drugs in the United States have orphan status.

Why it matters: President-elect Trump has made it clear that he's going to keep drug prices on the agenda. Stories like this may make it tougher for congressional Republicans to resist, even if they're skeptical of government action.