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Orphan Drugs And Rare Diseases In The Middle East

March 6, 2013

The Orphan Druganaut Blog continues its review of international rare disease and orphan drug regulations with a look at the Middle East. Countries presented by the Blog are Australia, Japan, and Mexico. A comparison chart identifying various policies on orphan drugs worldwide is available from Orphanet (a portal for rare diseases and orphan drugs).

Intractable & Rare Diseases Research (IRDR), is a peer-reviewed journal of the International Research and Cooperation Association for Bio & Socio-Sciences Advancement, which is published quarterly. A fact-filled and fascinating article on the status of rare diseases and orphan drugs in the Middle East is available from the IRDR journal for FREE at :

Ziyad S. Almalki et al. “Access to Orphan Drugs in the Middle East: Challenge and Perspective”Intractable & Rare Diseases Research. 2012; 1(4):139-143.

The article discusses the availability and development of orphan drugs in the Middle East.

According to the article, there is approximately 2.8 million rare disease patients in the Middle East that has a combined population of less than 400 million. The Middle East is comprised of 16 countries, “(in declining order by population: Egypt, Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, United Arab Emirates or UAE, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Cyprus) plus the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip”. Figure 1 in the article (“Estimated number of individuals with a rare disease in the Middle East”) shows the estimation of the rare disease population per country. The population of the Middle East is characterized by “ … large family size, older maternal and paternal age, and a high rate (25-60%) of consanguineous marriages. Hence, the risk for genetic disorders may be higher than in other regions of the world ….”.

A major problem in this part of the world, is the difficulty to diagnosis rare diseases since a physician will not see a case that often. This results in physicians having to rely on published literature and rare disease registries, which vary in volume and availability. There is also a shortage of trained medical professionals in the Middle East. Several groups are making efforts to track rare disease patients :

  1. The Centre for Arab Genomic Studies (CAGS)
  2. Kuwait University.

Rare Disease Day 2013 In The Middle East







Saudi Arabia 

United Arab Emirates (UAE).

References Blog “Download: GENPHARM white paper – MENA Market: An Attractive Opportunity for Rare Disease & Healthcare Companies

Please Note : Middle East Map [Public domain] from US CIA’s World Facebook | Wikimedia Commons.

Copyright © 2012-2013, Orphan Druganaut Blog. All rights reserved.

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