Orphan drugs are expected to play an increasingly prominent role in the biopharmaceutical industry. Driven by the promises of improving the prognosis for patients with serious and often life-threatening conditions and by high price points and limited competition, the worldwide orphan market grew at approximately 8% per year over the past five years (from $79 billion to $114 billion). This rise in orphan drug spend is likely to continue unabated, with analysts expecting the 2020 worldwide orphan drug market to top $178 billion. 

In this Executive Insights, we offer an L.E.K. Consulting viewpoint on how the orphan market is actually a collection of seven distinct business model archetypes that are driven by key disease, patient and market characteristics. It is our hope that by disaggregating and characterizing these business models and their key success factors/risks, we may enable readers to focus their corporate strategies to optimize the value and impact of their orphan therapies.

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