Pharma's niche focus spurs US aid for antibiotics 

The pharmaceutical industry won approval to market a record number of new drugs for rare diseases last year, as a combination of scientific innovation and business opportunity spurred new treatments for diseases long-ignored by drug companies.

Drug companies have increasingly taken advantage of the commercial benefits of developing so-called orphan drugs, which include extra patent protections, higher pricing and a streamlined review process by FDA.

But their focus on specialty drug research has spurred the U.S. government to ramp up its own spending on vaccines, antibiotics and drugs for more widespread health threats, which are less profitable for companies.

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