Hatch works to spur development of treatments for rare diseases

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) recently introduced legislation to expand incentives for drugmakers to develop treatments for rare diseases that would include the repurposing of previously approved drugs.

The Orphan Product Extensions Now Accelerating Cures and Treatments (OPEN ACT) Act of 2017 would build on earlier successes of the Orphan Drug Act of 1983, which has helped incentivize the development of drugs and technologies to treat 7,000 rare diseases that impact 30 million Americans.

Under the OPEN ACT, S. 1509, incentives would be extended to the repurposing of previously approved drugs to target rare diseases. Repurposing drugs has been found to lead to the faster development of safe and cost-effective treatments.

“Since Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and I first championed the Orphan Drug Act in 1983, helping medical innovators treat rare diseases has remained among my top priorities,” Hatch said. “This bill is a natural step in expanding that effort to close the gap for rare diseases that do not have treatments. My proposal builds on past work to ensure that rare disease patients have access to the treatments they need.”

The Orphan Drug Act has led to more research and development and approved drugs for the treatment of rare diseases, defined as those that impact fewer than 200,000 people in the United States, research shows.

Hatch’s bill would grant an additional six months of market exclusivity to drugs that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration and repurposed to treat rare diseases.