Novartis joined the global rare-disease community in recognition of Rare Disease Day by calling for a global exchange of ideas to deepen the understanding of rare diseases and help address a significant unmet medical need. Rare Disease Day is an annual, international awareness-raising event coordinated globally by Rare Diseases Europe (EURORDIS) and in the US by the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) and held on the last day of February. The main objective of Rare Disease Day is to raise awareness amongst the general public and decision-makers about rare diseases and their impact 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," said Dr. Mark Fishman, President of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, in the press release. "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 has nine marketed drugs that have been designated orphan drugs as well as more than 40 active preclinical and clinical research projects in the rare diseases area. Novartis has also established alliances with more than 300 collaborators, both academic and industrial, many focused on rare diseases.
Novartis will sponsor and host RE(ACT) Congress 2014, the second international conference on research of rare and orphan diseases, organized by the Gebert Rüf Foundation and the Blackswan Foundation. The meeting, held on the Novartis Basel Campus from March 5–8, 2014, provides the global research community with a platform to connect, exchange ideas, and deepen fundamental understanding of rare diseases.