Children are not little adults
The leading medical charity, Action Research, is backing the Consumer Association’s call for the pharmaceutical industry `to put their house in order over medicines for children’.
Two-thirds of drugs given to children have no official licence or approval for use with young people.
The use of modern drug treatments has done much to prevent physical disability and alleviate suffering in sick children. As a result of the lack of research performed in children however, in many cases drugs are used in conditions for which they have not been adequately tested.
For the past two years, Action Research has been funding an project into drug treatments used in children.
When a drug is launched, the extensive set of trials to determine that it is safe and the doses used are carried out on adults. But children are not little adults.
Action Research paediatrician Dr Mike Shields of the Queen’s University of Belfast said: ``The way that the body gets rid of drugs is very different in children compared with adults.’’
This means that it is difficult to calculate the dose that is needed in children. It is also difficult to predict the side-effects that drugs may have. Dr Shields added: ``We need data that tells us which drugs are safe to use with children and what dose to give them.’’
Dr Shields is part of a team of nurses, doctors, pharmacists, analysts and statisticians based at The Queen’s University and the Royal Hospitals in Belfast using an innovative way of getting this much needed information. With funds from Action Research, they will be analysing the concentration of drugs found in any blood samples that are taken as a normal course of treatment of children in the hospital.
``We really need this information so that we can give children the same level of care and protection that we expect for adults,’’ said Dr Shields.
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