Intractable Rare Dis Res. 2012;1(4):139-143. (DOI: 10.5582/irdr.2012.v1.4.139)

Access to orphan drugs in the Middle East: Challenge and perspective.

Almalki ZS, Alahmari AK, Guo JJ, Kelton CML


An orphan drug is a drug developed specifically to treat a rare medical condition. With a combined population of less than 400 million, about 2.8 million patients are estimated to be suffering from a rare disease in the Middle East. Some disorders such as hemoglobinopathy, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, autosomal recessive syndromes, and several metabolic disorders have a presence throughout the Middle East. In order to promote the treatment of these diseases, Middle Eastern governments need to facilitate education and training of healthcare personnel; develop and execute a method for obtaining and paying for orphan drugs; and, finally, provide tax, marketing, and other incentives to domestic and international firms to develop drugs specifically for the diseases of most importance to Middle Eastern patients.

KEYWORDS: Orphan drug, rare disease, genetic disorder, Middle East

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