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Mesothelioma and Other Orphan Diseases Gain Support from Washington According to

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Friday, August 26, 2011 has good news this summer for some of the people involved in researching and developing drugs and treatments for diseases like mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by inhaling asbestos, is classified as an ‘orphan disease’ because it affects fewer than 200,000 people at any given time. About 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the U.S. each year.

Now, the U.S. Senate has introduced a clarification to a law exempting drug developers from certain fees for their drugs designed to treat these so-called ‘orphan diseases’. Most drug companies are required to pay an annual fee to the government based on sales of their brand-name drugs. But under the bipartisan ‘Preserving Access to Orphan Drugs Act of 2011’ pharmaceutical companies can avoid these fees if they are working on medications for rare diseases like mesothelioma.

“With 30 million Americans suffering from rare disease, it is important to ensure that the development of treatment and cures for these diseases is not inhibited,” said Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa) in a press release in July. “This is a responsible step to make certain that current law won’t threaten development of treatment or jeopardize care.”

According to, it is fitting that the law was introduced by two Pennsylvania senators since it will be good news for the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia. The school recently announced the establishment of a new research center devoted to finding cures for orphan diseases like mesothelioma. Bolstered by an anonymous $10 million dollar donation, the new Penn Center for Orphan Disease Research and Therapy will be a first-of-its kind interdisciplinary center focused on discovering novel treatments for any of 7,000 rare diseases.

Right now, treatments and research for mesothelioma and other rare diseases lags behind those affecting a larger percentage off the population, such as diabetes and heart disease. This is due to the fact that in the case of rare diseases, the same amount of research dollars goes into drug development but reaps a much smaller financial reward in the end, according to

In their official announcement in July, the University of Pennsylvania said the center will “bring together without institutional walls, all necessary approaches to attacking and treating orphan diseases: establishing dedicated research support facilities, translating findings into therapies, fostering targeted grant awards, and educating physicians and researchers.” It is hoped that such an effort will provide more treatment options for mesothelioma.

For more information about mesothelioma doctors and treatment options visit the Surviving Mesothelioma website.

Michael Ellis
Cancer Monthly
(919) 570-8595
Source: Surviving Mesothelioma
1.2 from 4 votes
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