BioScience Trends. 2015;9(2):88-90. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2015.01048)

Towards government-funded special biomedical research programs to combat rare diseases in China.

Chen K, Yao L, Liu ZY


Rare diseases are rarely conditions that are often debilitating and even life-threatening, which was identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) with a prevalence of 0.65-1‰. 5,000-7,000 rare diseases are thought to exist, which account for around 10% of diseases for individuals worldwide. It is estimated that over 10 million people were patients with rare disease in China. During the past years, public awareness of rare diseases has in fact heightened with the launching of campaigns by patients' organizations and spontaneous efforts by members of the public, not only in developed countries and regions including United States of America (USA), the European Union (EU), and in Japan, but also in China. However, the features of missed or delayed diagnosis, shortage of effective drugs, and the high cost of currently available drugs for rare diseases make it an important public health issue and a challenge to medical care worldwide. To combat rare disease, the government should assume the responsibility of taking on the important task of promoting the sustained development of a system of medical care for and research into rare diseases. Governmentfunded special biomedical research programs in the USA, EU, and Japan may serve as a reference for China coping with rare diseases. The government-funded special biomedical research programs consisting of leading clinicians and researchers to enhance basic and applied research on rare diseases were expected to be launched in China.

KEYWORDS: Rare diseases, orphan drugs, public health, medical care

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