Review Article

Rational Use of Medicine in Children—The Conflict of Interests Story. A Review

Klaus Rose, David Neubauer, and Jane M. Grant-Kels


Background: United States (US) and European Union (EU) legislation attempts to counterbalance the presumed discrimination in pediatric drug treatment and development. Methods: We analyzed the history of drug development, US/EU pediatric laws, and pediatric studies required by US/EU regulatory authorities and reviewed relevant literature. Results: The US and EU definitions of a child are defined administratively (rather than physiologically) as being aged <17 years and <18 years, respectively. However, children mature physiologically well before their seventeenth or eighteenth birthdays. The semantic blur for these differing definitions may indicate certain conflicts of interest. Conclusions: Pediatric healthcare today is better than ever. Regulatory-related requirements for “pediatric” studies focus on labeling. Most of these studies lack medical usefulness and may even harm pediatric patients through administration of placebo and/or substandard treatment, despite the resultant publications, networking, patent extensions, and strengthened regulatory standing. Clinicians, parents, and ethics committees should be aware of these issues. New rules are needed to determine new pharmaceutical dose estimates in prepubescent patients, and when/how to clinically confirm them. Internet-based structures to divulge this information should be established between drug developers, clinicians, and regulatory authorities. A prerequisite for the rational use of pharmaceuticals in children would be to correct the flawed concept that children are discriminated against in drug treatment and development, and to abandon separate pediatric drug approval processes.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2019;10(3):e0018