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White Paper: Insight into Orphan Drug Formulations and Regulations

The US Orphan Drug Act of 1983 characterizes an orphan disease as a rare medical condition that affects a population of fewer than 200,000 people. Rare diseases have various causes— most notably, genetics. However, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) states, “many rare diseases, including infections, some rare cancers, and some autoimmune diseases, are not inherited. While researchers are learning more each year, the exact cause of many rare diseases is still unknown” (NIH, 2017).

The term “orphan disease” resulted from pharmaceutical companies not having the resources to design and scale up formulations to treat these diseases, due to the lack of financial support for such highly specialized programs. The Orphan Drug Act (ODA) allows for the necessary financial backing of pharmaceutical companies to develop treatments for rare diseases (NIH, 2017), giving special status to a drug or biological product (drug) upon request of a sponsor. This status is referred to as orphan designation or orphan status.

Topics: Resource Center Oral Solid Dose Formulations Regulatory Compliance Orphan Drugs

Formulating for Orphan Indication Drug Products

According to the US Orphan Drug Act of 1983, a rare disease is defined as a condition that affects fewer than 200,000 people. The term orphan disease originated from pharmaceutical companies not having the resources to design and scale-up formulations to treat these diseases due to the lack of financial support for such highly specialized programs. The need for financial backing resulted in The Orphan Drug Act of 1983 that gave companies a means to develop treatments for rare diseases (NIH, 2017).

Rare diseases are caused by various reasons— most notably by genetics. However, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) states, “many rare diseases, including infections, some rare cancers, and some autoimmune diseases, are not inherited. While researchers are learning more each year, the exact cause of many rare diseases is still unknown” (NIH, 2017). Almost half of those affected by rare diseases are children (Global Genes, 2018).

Topics: Thought Leadership Drug Product Formulations Orphan Drugs

Case Study: Orphan Drug Product

According to the Food and Drug Administration and the Orphan Drug Designation program,  orphan status is applicable to drugs and biologics which are defined as “those intended for the safe and effective treatment, diagnosis or prevention of rare diseases/disorders that affect fewer than 200,000 people in the U.S., or that affect more than 200,000 persons but are not expected to recover the costs of developing and marketing a treatment drug.” Due to the high costs and low demands of the drug product, it is important to efficiently use your API supply during the formulation process. This case study presents how Alcami successfully helped a client overcome an API supply shortage using Quality by Design studies to successfully formulate an orphan drug product. 

Topics: Drug Product Oral Solid Dose API Formulations Resource Center Thought Leadership Orphan Drugs