As the old “blockbuster” mentality  fades in the wake of relatively weak pipelines, increased emphasis on drug safety, slow sales growth, and the loss of patent protection on older blockbusters, it would appear that the orphan-disease niche (i.e., low volume: high cost) has become an increasingly attractive lure to major pharmaceutical companies.   While there may be few patients with each disease, David Simmons – president of Pfizer’s established product’s business unit- said “collectively, it’s a very large patient population with a great unmet medical need.”  In addition to Pfizer, other major pharmaceutical companies entering this space include GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis.   Source:  New York Times.