Updated on 26 December 2012
The departed - US comedian and supporter of the Orphan Drug Act, Mr Jack Klugman, passes away at 90
Singapore: US comic actor, Mr Jack Klugman, star of the famous comedy movie, The Odd Couple, died at the age of 90. Mr Klugman touched the lives of millions of Americans through his support for the Orphan Drug Act. Mr Klugman had on his television show, Quincy ME, portrayed the plight of people with rare diseases that have no treatment. He also focused on the need for incentives to encourage the development of therapies for small patient populations.
In 1993, Mr Klugman, in an interview, told that his interest in the Quincy TV show stemmed partly from the fact that it allowed him to do important shows on important topics. A 1981 episode, about a young man with Tourette's syndrome drew attention to orphan drugs that drug companies had ignored as unprofitable because the conditions are relatively rare.
The house subcommittee on health and environment invited Mr Klugman to Washington to testify on the issue, where he asked, "How many cries before they get heard?" His death comes one week before the start of the 30th anniversary year of the Orphan Drug Act of 1983.
The Orphan Drug Act of 1983 is a law passed in the US designed to facilitate the development and commercialization of drugs to treat rare diseases. The act is a public policy that was established in response to the limited number of medications that had been FDA-approved for the treatment of rare diseases. At the time of inception, less than 15 drugs had been approved for the treatment of rare diseases.
The act allows the government to provide incentives to drug manufactures in order to help defray the expense of producing an orphan drug and to optimize profits from sales of the drug. Since 1983, more than 1,414 orphan products (drugs, biologics and devices) have been produced.