Fantastic step forward for paediatric care. Charity campaigners welcome launch of new guide to child medicines
20 September 2005
Action Medical Research has welcomed this morning’s launch of the British National Formulary (BNF) for Children, calling it a ‘fantastic step forward’.
The medical charity has been campaigning since 2000 for better, evidence-based guidelines to help doctors prescribe safe and effective doses of drugs for children.
Around 40 per cent of the medicines given to children have never actually been tested on children, and for new-born babies the figure is 65%.
In the absence of clear guidelines, GPs and hospital doctors have relied on their best professional judgements when determining the optimum dosage of some drugs for young patients.
Back in 2002 Action Medical Research announced the findings of its study into the use of 10 drugs that are commonly prescribed to hospitalised children, but which are unlicensed or untested for young patients.
While most doctors selected doses that were appropriate and safe, the study found evidence that in some cases doctors were giving doses that were too low to control the patients’ symptoms.
This important study demonstrated the urgent need for better testing of drugs for children, and for improved prescribing guidelines.
Andrew Proctor of Action Medical Research said, “This is a fantastic step forward for paediatric medicine, providing welcome and long-awaited guidance for medical professionals.
“We have long campaigned for children to not be treated as little adults when it comes to prescribing medicines. Babies and children differ from adults in the way they absorb and metabolise drugs, so scaling down adult dosages is not always safe or effective.
“We are delighted to see that, finally, doctors can now refer to an authoritative BNF that puts the needs of children first – giving practitioners greater confidence when prescribing medicines.
“While this is excellent news for paediatric care, it is also vitally important that work to test more drugs for use in children continues.”
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