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WHO in warning over child drug reaction data

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Clinical data on the way medicines affect children must be improved, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The United Nations body said reporting systems needed to be boosted and there needed to be better collaboration between governments, regulatory authorities, research institutions and the pharmaceutical industry.

The WHO report on drug side-effects, entitled Promoting Safety of Medicines for Children, is part of a larger initiative to increase children’s access to safe and effective drugs.

The report claims a large proportion of side-effects or adverse reactions in adults are down to incorrect use.

But in the case of children, even more factors come into play.

This results in fewer medicines being developed specifically for children, and often means young people are given adult drugs.

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Another problem is the size of tablets, a problem highlighted during a deworming campaign in Ethiopia in which four children choked to death on the pills.

Dr Howard Zucker, WHO assistant director-general for health technology and pharmaceuticals, said: “We need to learn more about the way children’s bodies react to medicines so we can improve global child health.

“That’s why it’s extremely important to keep track of potential side-effects in child populations.

“Ultimately, this will save lives and build up a knowledge base for the future.”

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