Children should be used as guinea pigs in clinical research to speed up medical breakthroughs and improve treatment for them, a leading expert says.
About 40 per cent of medicines prescribed to children have never been tested on them. For newborn babies, the figure rises to 90 per cent.
But scientists will only make real breakthroughs in children’s medicine if they include children in research programmes as well as adults, Prof John Warner, a consultant paediatrician, says today at the opening of the Paediatric Research Unit in central London, Britain’s first unit solely devoted to paediatric clinical research.
Most drug research is carried out on adults because it is ethically simpler to obtain consent from them. Critics complain that children are not merely small adults and that therapeutic and side effects can vary widely with age.
There is also a problem with dosing. Doctors are often forced to guess at what the child dose will be.