Introduction and Background:"Pediatric Drug Development" is being used to describe not the development of drugs for children, but rather the planning & conducting separate efficacy and safety (E&S) studies requested/demanded by regulatory authorities designed to produce pediatric labels. Pediatric studies required for drug approval enroll "children"; defined as <17 years of age (US Food and Drug Administration [FDA])/ <18 years (European Union [EU]). The medical rationale for study designs was examined. Material & Methods:International industry-sponsored pediatric E&S studies registered in www.clinicaltrials.gov were analysed along with the history of US/EU laws, published literature, internet-retrieved regulatory documents, and regulatory/ American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) justifications for doing separate pediatric E&S studies. Results:US/EU regulators utilize an official, but non-physiological definition of childhood based on an age limit of 17/18 years. This definition, which blurs the interface between medicine and law, emerged after clinical studies became required for drug approval in 1962 prompting drug manufacturers to insert pediatric warnings into product information. Intended largely as legal protection against liability, they were interpreted medically. Absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion mature rapidly. Drug toxicities seen in newborns during the first months of life were cited by AAP/FDA in warnings of dangers of drugs in all "children" including in adolescents who are physiologically no longer children. Warnings were/are exaggerated, exploit/ed parents' protective instincts and fears, and increase/d pediatric clinical trial activity. Conflicts of interest created by this increased activity involve research funding, career status & advancement, commercial profits. Discussion:FDA/EMA-requested/demanded "pediatric" studies were identified which lack medical sense at best, others actually harm young patients by impeding use of superior, effective treatments. Separate labels for different indications make medical sense; separate approval in persons above/below 17/18 years of age does not. Conclusions:Pediatric medical research should be restricted to studies which meet important medical needs of all recruited young patients, which generate information that cannot be obtained by other study designs, and do not limit access to superior alternative therapies. Clinical centers, investigators, and IRBs/ECs should more carefully examine studies for unjustified regulatory demands, prevention of subjects' access to superior treatments, and undeclared COI's. Questionable studies should not be approved and ongoing ones should be suspended.
Curr Ther Res Clin Exp (Current therapeutic research, clinical and experimental)
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