Novartis calls for more rare disease research during Rare Disease Day

Novartis joined with the global rare disease community on Friday by encouraging discussion to better understand rare disease and meet significant medical need in honor of Rare Disease Day.

The annual, international awareness day was coordinated by EURORDIS and the National Organization for Rare Disorders in an effort to educate the public and decision makers about rare diseases and their effect on patients' lives.

"Novartis is pleased to help raise the dialogue about rare diseases and the need for more research to understand these diseases better," Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research President Mark Fishman said. "Our focus on rare diseases flows from our desire to help patients underserved by today's medicines. In addition, research into rare diseases teaches us fundamental mechanisms of human biology and disease, often applicable to more prevalent disorders."

Novartis said that even though diseases may be rare, they can have a large impact on patients and their communities. More than 6,000 rare diseases affect more than 60 million people in Europe and North America.

Novartis said investment in fundamental discover and translational research is crucial to the treatment and eradication of these diseases. The company has focused on developing therapies and cures for rare diseases since 1963, and has nine marketed drugs as well as a "clinical pipeline" with more than 40 preclinical and clinical research projects for rare diseases.

Novartis is a sponsor and host for RE(ACT) Congress 2014, an international conference for research of rare and orphan diseases. The conference will be held March 5-8, and is organized by the Gebert Ruf Foundation and the Blackswan Foundation.

"We continue to look for new ways to combine our own scientific knowledge and expertise with that of the rest of the research community, to find the shortest path to new treatments for rare diseases," Fishman said.