Developing interactions with industry in rare diseases: lessons learned and continuing challenges


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) established the Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network to address the unique challenges of performing research on rare diseases. The Urea Cycle Disorders Consortium (UCDC) was one of the original ten consortia established. The UCDC represents a unique partnership among clinicians, patients, and the NIH with a primary goal of increasing the development of therapeutics that improve patient outcomes for persons affected with a UCD. Based in part on financial incentives associated with the Orphan Drug Act biopharmaceutical and investment entities have an intense interest in engaging with research consortia like the UCDC, which have compiled potentially valuable longitudinal data characterizing outcomes in a relatively large number of affected individuals. We describe the UCDC experience and the bases for evaluating partnerships with such private entities. We review early industry interactions, the development of policies and procedures, and describe the establishment of an Industry Relations Committee, including guiding principles. Challenges encountered, particularly in the transition when products are approved, and potential solutions are discussed. By building a framework for industry partnerships that guides us in resolving inevitable challenges, we can enthusiastically pursue novel and promising collaborations that can lead to breakthroughs in therapeutic interventions for patients.

Genet Med Jan;22(1):219-226