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Published on 5 February 2009

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More drug trials on children needed

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More children need to take part in drug trials so that medicines can be licensed for safe and effective use on the young, according to a leading academic.

Professor James McElnay, from Queen’s University Belfast, said there was widespread ignorance over the fact that many medicines were being used outside their licence to treat children, despite not being tested for the purpose.

He put the problem down to a shortage of parents prepared to allow their healthy children to be used in clinical trials, saying that most would be reluctant to involve a child in the clinical trials necessary for medicines to gain a licence.

The study, published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, found that only 4%  would enter their own child into a trial if the child was in good health, with the numbers rising to 42% if the child had a life-threatening condition and the medicine being tested was being used for that condition.

Professor McElnay said: “There is a lack of medicines available for children which have undergone the strict testing procedures which take place for adult medicines.

“This puts children at a disadvantage when compared to adults. There is a need for more clinical trials in children so that more licensed medicines are available.”

Copyright Press Association 2009

Queen’s University Belfast



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