Intractable Rare Dis Res. 2016;5(4):308-313. (DOI: 10.5582/irdr.2016.01025)

Orphan drug development in China ‒ Turning challenges into opportunities.

Jin X, Chen L


Of over 7,000 known rare diseases, only 5% currently have an available treatment option worldwide. Moreover, the vast majority of rare disease patients in China have no access to treatment due to limited availability and the lack of appropriate infrastructure in China's healthcare system. Despite increased interest in orphan drug development, drug companies in China with active programs on drugs to treat rare diseases are still limited. Hence, there is a huge unmet need in China, with over 10 million patients suffering from rare diseases. Nonetheless, this has created unprecedented opportunities for the Chinese drug development market. Life science innovation in China has recently received a healthy boost from the 13th National Five-Year Plan and from on-going reform of the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA). Rare diseases are now recognized as a national priority with increasing governmental support, creating tremendous opportunities for both domestic and multinational drug companies. China is anticipated to play an increasingly important role in the global fight against rare diseases. To ensure future success, Chinese drug companies should leverage the valuable knowledge assembled over the past three decades by Western countries in the area of orphan drug development.

KEYWORDS: Orphan drug development, rare disease in China, challenges and opportunities

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