WHO Campaign To Develop Medicines For Children

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Medicines For Children

The World Health Organization on Thursday launched a campaign to encourage pharmaceutical companiesto develop medicines better adapted to treat children with diseases such asHIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, Reuters reports. WHO has compiled the firstinternational list of Essential Medicines for Children, which includes 206 products thattackle priority conditions and are safe for children. The agency particularlyis calling for increased research and development of pediatric HIV/AIDS, TB andmalaria treatments (Hirschler, Reuters, 12/6).

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According to WHO, about six million children younger than age five die annuallybecause they do not receive appropriate medication for treatable diseases. HowardZucker, WHO assistant director-general, said that more drugs need to be made"child size," meaning that they need to be in the "dosageforms" and "preparation" for easy administration to children. Headded that children often either must take drugs that are not age-appropriate,or they lack access to medicines because of cost constraints.

In the case of HIV/AIDS, the few drugs that have been developed for childrencost "two to eight times" more than adult medications, HansHogerzeil, WHO medicines policy and standards director, said. It is "muchmore expensive to treat a child than it is to treat an adult, because there hasbeen a lot of competition among the adult medicines but hardly any competitionfor the children's medicines." He added that if there were more productson the market, price reductions might occur (Schlein, VOA News, 12/5).

Testing medicines on children also is a challenge because ethical practicesrequire informed consent from people participating in clinical trials, which isdifficult to obtain in the case of children, according to Reuters.Europe and the U.S.now have special rules that offer extended patent protection for drugs thathave been tested among children in an effort to address the problem, Reutersreports. WHO also is building a Web site, which is scheduled to launch in early2008, that will provide information about clinical trials conducted amongchildren (Reuters, 12/6).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Reportis published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. KaiserFamily Foundation.

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