Challenges in conducting clinical trials in children: approaches for improving performance.

Expert review of clinical pharmacology

PubMedID: 20228942

Kern SE. Challenges in conducting clinical trials in children: approaches for improving performance. Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 2009;2(6):609-617.
Recent legislative changes in both Europe and the USA have increased the responsibility of drug developers to purposefully study the agents they market in children so that specific dosing recommendations can be made to assist clinicians in their use. Typically, clinicians use empiricalor experiential-based rationales for selecting the dose to use in children, generally in a manner that attempts to achieve the same dose-exposure or pharmacokinetic profile in children as in adults. However, whether this approach achieves the necessary dose exposure or exposure effect needed may not be systematically explored during off-label use. This creates the opportunity for under- or over-exposure in children, particularly in very young children (i.e., less than 2 years old) where a combination of factors during development can effect both pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. The ethical, physiological and statistical differences of studying new therapeutic agents in children present economic challenges that may create unintended incentives - both positive and negative - for any individual developer who tries to meet the requirements of new legislation to study pharmaceutical agents in children. There should be a continued emphasis in academic clinical pharmacology programs towards creative methods and approaches to better understand these differences in children compared with adults. The ability to use information from knowledge obtained from adult studies, from preclinical studies, from studies of compounds with similar chemistry or pharmacology, or from known physiological differences between children and adults is essential to choosing a suitable dose for children and achieving these regulatory aims.