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4 Rare Disease Stocks

February 29th, Leap Day, is arguably a "rare" day, coming once every four years, though not nearly as rare an occasion as some devestating diseases. The connection is enough however, as Rare Disease Day, is recognized internationally on February 29th. Across the world, 2/29 is a day to focus on the 5,000 - 8,000 debilitating and life threatening disorders which affect less than 1/2,000 individuals worldwide or less than 200,000 Americans. In the U.S., the day is commemorated with an NIH Symposium on Rare Diseases. Other countries and companies host fundraiser and patient advocacy seminars. Pharmaceutical companies have increased their hand in this arena more so in recent years.

A majority of rare diseases, some 80%, have a genetic basis. The science behind the cause of these diseases is often simplistically frustrating despite the complex complications of diseases and attractive to some of the best minds in science attempting to fix the mutations inherited by suffers of these diseases. Rare diseases often attract the attention of science, but financially speaking, the limited revenue stream of rare diseases only used to attract academia and smaller biotech companies looking to carve a niche or partner with a larger pharmaceutical.

To attract research and development of rare diseases, both the FDA and EU offer financial grant incentives for drugs with orphan status. The U.S. Orphan Drug Act, passed in 1983, helps support tax breaks for rare disease drug develops with tax breaks and incentives. The following are publicly traded companies developing orphan drugs for rare diseases and we want to take a moment to recognize their work.

Shire plc (SHPGY) has been publicly recognized for its support of Rare Disease day with fundraisers and awareness in addition to its science. Shire supports the RARE project and its Global Genes Project ™ "Wear that you Care" initiative. Shire applies a successful strategy to attack severe and rare diseases that is necessary in the volatile biotech industry. The company has a wide array of revenue generating products in the arenas of GI drugs, psychiatric medications and...