Purpose: Various incentives are provided by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to facilitate the development and marketing of orphan drugs. A 10-year period of market exclusivity is reserved to an orphan medicinal product. Sometimes, the sponsor renounces the designation before the expiration of that standard period. Our aim was to focus on these premature withdrawals. Methods: We retrieved all the molecules included in the Community Register of Orphan Medicinal Products for Human Use from 2000 to November 2020. We considered the active substance, therapeutic indication, sponsor, year of designation, year of approval of the corresponding medicinal product, and that of the withdrawal of the orphan designation, if occurred. Results: Overall, 2350 orphan designations were approved from 2000 to November 2020. Of these, 141 have been marketed. Premature withdrawal of orphan designation concerned 23 drugs (20 being antineoplastic agents), corresponding to 16 medicinal products. These withdrawals occurred after almost 2 years (range <1–7 years). Conclusions: A not negligible fraction of marketed orphan medicinal products underwent premature removal of their orphan designation. No motivation is requested by the EMA for this renouncement, although the peculiarity of the orphan medicinal products would need a greater transparency. We can only speculate about possible compensations in support of this decision, for instance in terms of commercial agreements between pharmaceutical companies, giving way to alternative products, as a couple of examples suggest. An open debate on this topic among members of academia, regulatory bodies, price and reimbursements committees, and pharmaceutical industry representatives will be welcome.

Removal of the EMA orphan designation upon request of the sponsor: cui prodest?

Montanaro N.
;
Bonaldo G.;Motola D.
2021

Abstract

Purpose: Various incentives are provided by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to facilitate the development and marketing of orphan drugs. A 10-year period of market exclusivity is reserved to an orphan medicinal product. Sometimes, the sponsor renounces the designation before the expiration of that standard period. Our aim was to focus on these premature withdrawals. Methods: We retrieved all the molecules included in the Community Register of Orphan Medicinal Products for Human Use from 2000 to November 2020. We considered the active substance, therapeutic indication, sponsor, year of designation, year of approval of the corresponding medicinal product, and that of the withdrawal of the orphan designation, if occurred. Results: Overall, 2350 orphan designations were approved from 2000 to November 2020. Of these, 141 have been marketed. Premature withdrawal of orphan designation concerned 23 drugs (20 being antineoplastic agents), corresponding to 16 medicinal products. These withdrawals occurred after almost 2 years (range <1–7 years). Conclusions: A not negligible fraction of marketed orphan medicinal products underwent premature removal of their orphan designation. No motivation is requested by the EMA for this renouncement, although the peculiarity of the orphan medicinal products would need a greater transparency. We can only speculate about possible compensations in support of this decision, for instance in terms of commercial agreements between pharmaceutical companies, giving way to alternative products, as a couple of examples suggest. An open debate on this topic among members of academia, regulatory bodies, price and reimbursements committees, and pharmaceutical industry representatives will be welcome.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/855376
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