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Etymology: Gk, orphanos, without parents; ME, drogge
a term that generally refers to drugs needed to treat rare diseases but can encompass any pharmaceutic product available to physicians and patients in countries other than the United States that has not been "adopted" by a domestic pharmaceutic manufacturer or distributor. An orphan drug may not be available in the United States because total sales would not justify the expense of research and development or because the medication may be a natural substance that cannot be effectively protected by patent laws against competition from a similar form of the product. The U.S. Orphan Drug Act of 1983 offers federal financial incentives to commercial and nonprofit organizations to develop and market drugs previously unavailable in the United States for rare diseases affecting fewer than 200,000 people. The FDA assists in the process with its office of Orphan Product Development.
orphan drug/productAny drug, biological, medical device, or food of potential or actual use in treating 'orphan' diseases–diseases regarded by the pharmaceutical industry as too rare for developing commercially viable products. See Orphan disease. Cf Pseudoorphan drug.
A term for a drug that treats a rare disease, defined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as one that affects fewer than 200,000 Americans. The FDA has an Office of Orphan Products Development (OOPD), which offers grants to researchers to develop these products.