orphan drug


: a drug that is not developed or marketed because its extremely limited use makes it unprofitable

Examples of orphan drug in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Some drugmakers are lobbying for orphan drugs to be exempt from the price caps being set by state boards. Meghana Keshavan, STAT, 22 Mar. 2024 One bill, dubbed the ORPHAN Cures Act, would allow an orphan drug to avoid negotiation as long as it is approved exclusively for rare diseases. Rachel Cohrs Reprints, STAT, 29 Feb. 2024 Smaller biotechs and pharma firms, for example, often specialize in orphan drugs or other specific areas where unique regulations affect how a product can be developed or marketed. Doron Aspitz, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 But payers should view new antimicrobials as orphan drugs because—at least right now—a relatively small number of people need them. Erin Prater, Fortune Well, 17 Jan. 2024 In the second place, AstraZeneca doesn’t happen to mention the special treatment that orphan drugs receive from the federal government. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 11 Oct. 2023 In the first place, the negotiation program covers a few score drugs costing Medicare the most; almost by definition, orphan drugs probably will never fall into that category. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 11 Oct. 2023 Horizon, which is based in Ireland, sells orphan drugs, which are medications for rare diseases, and drugs to treat rheumatic diseases. Lisa Schencker, Chicago Tribune, 16 May 2023 Since the Orphan Drug Act was created, the FDA’s staff routinely handed out exclusivity to companies for orphan drugs that treat a subset of patients, such as pediatrics. Sarah Jane Tribble, USA TODAY, 19 Feb. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'orphan drug.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1981, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of orphan drug was in 1981

Dictionary Entries Near orphan drug

Cite this Entry

“Orphan drug.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/orphan%20drug. Accessed 17 Jun. 2024.

Medical Definition

orphan drug

: a drug that is not developed or marketed because its extremely limited use (as in the treatment of a rare disease) makes it unprofitable
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