Company news: the Orphan Drug Act's surprising savior; Pfizer settles Oregon suit

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The National Organization for Rare Disorders commended actor Jack Klugman, who died on Monday, for his role in ensuring passage of the Orphan Drug Act of 1983. Klugman, known for his everyman characters, was enlisted in the effort by his brother Maurice, a screenwriter who suffered a rare cancer, according to The Washington Post. Maurice wrote an episode of Quincy, M.E. exploring the problem, and Rep. Henry Waxman invited Jack to testify on the plight of rare disease sufferers, earning the cause tremendous publicity. When legislation to address it hit a snarl in the Senate, the Klugmans shamed the bill's chief obstacle, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), with an episode of the medical drama alluding to his hijinks, said the Post. The bill, of course, passed, incentivizing pharmas to make rare diseases a major area of R&D and sparking the development of hundreds of orphan drugs.  “By portraying on his Quincy, M.E. television show the plight of people with rare diseases with no treatment, Mr. Klugman focused a spotlight on the need for incentives to encourage the development of therapies for small patient populations.  He did this in partnership with patients and patient advocates who had been unable to gain national attention until he lent his support,” said NORD.

Pfizer agreed to run a national corrective ad campaign to settle an Oregon Department of Justice suit charging the company with violating an earlier consumer protection settlement around EpiPen and Zmax marketing.  Terms of the settlement include “restrictions on promotional use of patient survey data and promotional claims about patient preference” and a requirement that DTC advertising “in any medium shall clearly and conspicuously disclose: ‘Zmax does not work against infections caused by viruses or the flu. Only your doctor can determine whether an antibiotic is indicated.'"

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