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Wednesday 26th October 2016

Boost for paediatrics

26th January 2007

A leading UK cancer charity has welcomed a new law forcing all drugs to be examined for potential use in children.

Cancer Research UK says the new legislation will enable scientists to discover more about how anti-cancer drugs work in the young.  European law now states that any new medicine licensed in Europe must be observed for possible use in children.  The legislation applies to all medicines but doctors say it will particularly benefit children with cancer.

Drug companies face enormous challenges in developing medicines for use in children and often children with a wide range of conditions are given scaled-down doses of medication designed for adults which may not have gone through full clinical trials.  In treating the young doctors regularly have to guess the appropriate dose for a child which increases the risk of dangerous side-effects.  The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) estimates 90 per cent of children in neonatal intensive care units are given unlicensed medicines, as are 45 per cent of medicines used on general children's wards and up to 20 per cent of drugs prescribed to children by GPs.

The new law means drugs will now be subject to a paediatric investigation plan to determine which age groups will need to be studied before medicines can be made available to patients.  Drug companies will be able to apply for exemptions for drugs like Viagra which are only appropriate for use in adults.


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