That would have been a useful point to mention in a Washington Post article that reports on an orphan drug with a list price of $750,000 for a year's treatment. The piece reports that the drug's manufacturer, Biogen, offers the drug at concessionary prices to people who sign away privacy rights.

The piece notes the price being charged, then tells readers:

"But the Laskos [the family profiled in the piece] know it is expensive and risky for a company to develop a drug for a disease that affects one in 10,000 babies born each year. Drugs for tiny patient populations — called “orphan diseases” — are an increasingly attractive niche of drug development in part because of the high prices companies can charge."

While the drug companies do charge very high prices for many of these drugs, they also find it attractive to develop drugs for orphan diseases because of the orphan drug tax credit. This credit covers 50 percent of the cost of clinical drug tests. (The number could actually be somewhat higher than 50 percent, since an employee's salary can be fully charged as a covered expense if they devote 80 percent of their time to tests of orphan drugs. This means that for an employee right at this floor, the government is paying 62.5 percent of their pay, assuming the company accounts time honestly.)

Anyhow, it would have been worth noting this tax credit, since the federal government is sharing in this "expensive and risky" effort. This also suggests an obvious way around the problem of high-priced drugs. If the federal government paid the full cost (instead of half) of the research upfront, then the drug could be produced and sold as a generic.

In that case, we would likely be talking about a drug that would sell for around $750 a year, rather than $750,000, since few drugs are actually expensive to manufacture. It is probably worth mentioning in this context that the Washington Post receives considerable advertising revenue from pharmaceutical companies.