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Millions Around World to Observe Rare Disease Day
Date:2/13/2009

DANBURY, Conn., Feb. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The last day of February has been designated as worldwide "Rare Disease Day" to call attention to the public health issues associated with rare diseases, which affect nearly 30 million Americans and countless others around the world.

"People with rare diseases remain a medically underserved population in every country," said Peter L. Saltonstall, president of the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), which is sponsoring Rare Disease Day in the U.S. "This day is intended to bring together the patients and families with rare diseases to discuss the need for greater awareness, more research, and better access to diagnosis and treatment."

More than 200 organizations, institutions and companies have signed on as "Rare Disease Day Partners" in a U.S. coalition supporting the special observance. The coalition, being coordinated by NORD, includes patient organizations, professional societies, government agencies, medical researchers, and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

Rare Disease Day activities in the U.S. will include a nationwide network of online videos, patient stories and blogs; newspaper, radio, and television reports; state and municipal proclamations; a Rare Disease Hall of Fame for researchers; and other activities designed to raise awareness of what it means to have a rare disease.

A rare disease is one that affects fewer than 200,000 Americans. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there are nearly 7,000 such diseases affecting nearly 30 million Americans.

"People with rare diseases often face challenges that occur less frequently with more common diseases," Saltonstall said. "These include delay in getting an accurate diagnosis, few treatment options, and difficulty finding medical experts. Many rare diseases have no approved treatment, and insurance may not cover treatments th
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SOURCE National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
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