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Determinants of orphan drugs prices in France: a regression analysis | Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases | Full Text

Determinants of orphan drugs prices in France: a regression analysis | Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases | Full Text

Biomed Central

Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases

Determinants of orphan drugs prices in France: a regression analysis

  • Daria KorchaginaEmail author,
  • Aurelie Millier,
  • Anne-Lise Vataire,
  • Samuel Aballea,
  • Bruno Falissard and
  • Mondher Toumi
Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases201712:75
DOI: 10.1186/s13023-016-0561-5
Received: 22 September 2016
Accepted: 23 December 2016
Published: 21 April 2017



The introduction of the orphan drug legislation led to the increase in the number of available orphan drugs, but the access to them is often limited due to the high price. Social preferences regarding funding orphan drugs as well as the criteria taken into consideration while setting the price remain unclear. The study aimed at identifying the determinant of orphan drug prices in France using a regression analysis.


All drugs with a valid orphan designation at the moment of launch for which the price was available in France were included in the analysis. The selection of covariates was based on a literature review and included drug characteristics (Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) class, treatment line, age of target population), diseases characteristics (severity, prevalence, availability of alternative therapeutic options), health technology assessment (HTA) details (actual benefit (AB) and improvement in actual benefit (IAB) scores, delay between the HTA and commercialisation), and study characteristics (type of study, comparator, type of endpoint). The main data sources were European public assessment reports, HTA reports, summaries of opinion on orphan designation of the European Medicines Agency, and the French insurance database of drugs and tariffs. A generalized regression model was developed to test the association between the annual treatment cost and selected covariates.


A total of 68 drugs were included. The mean annual treatment cost was €96,518. In the univariate analysis, the ATC class (p = 0.01), availability of alternative treatment options (p = 0.02) and the prevalence (p = 0.02) showed a significant correlation with the annual cost. The multivariate analysis demonstrated significant association between the annual cost and availability of alternative treatment options, ATC class, IAB score, type of comparator in the pivotal clinical trial, as well as commercialisation date and delay between the HTA and commercialisation.


The orphan drug pricing is a multivariate phenomenon. The complex association between drug prices and the studied attributes and shows that payers integrate multiple variables in decision making when setting orphan drug prices. The interpretation of the study results is limited by the small sample size and the complex data structure.


Orphan drugs Rare disease Technology assessment Pricing Drug costs

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