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Applications surge for rare-disease drugs

The number of pharmaceutical companies seeking market protection for drugs used to treat rare diseases rose by 63 per cent from 2013 to 2014, according to the European Medicines Agency's annual report.

A special incentive known as ‘orphan designation’ that protects drugs from facing competition from other drug developers once put on the market is becoming increasingly popular, according to the EMA.

The report, published on 30 April, said that the European medicines regulator had approved a total of 82 new medicines in 2014. 17 of these new medications were granted orphan designation – the highest number ever to be granted in a year and a significant increase on previous years.

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