The pediatric population is one that relies primarily on adults for health advocacy and care, and as such, their protection and medical treatment is an ethical as well as a scientific mandate. Yet despite global improvements in research and disease control, the risk, burden and mortality associated with pediatric infectious diseases remain considerable. “Diseases of poverty,” such as tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS, continue to take a toll on children in the world’s poorest countries.
Even in the face of these worrisome realities, there is a distinct lack of pediatric infectious disease clinical trials and a commensurately slow rate of new pediatric drugs in development. Some of this is due to the challenge of designing clinical trials to address the changing dosages and modalities unique to the pediatric population. However, according to some experts, at least part of the explanation for the delay in bringing new treatments to market lies in a lack of profitability.
“Our market-based system of pharmaceutical development is constantly looking either for ‘blockbuster’ drugs for chronic illness that people can take for years, or ultra-niche, super-expensive drugs for cancer and heart disease,” Ravi Jhaveri, MD, professor of pediatrics in the division of infectious diseases at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, told Infectious Disease News. “Pediatric infectious disease is a small market in most cases, so development is a challenge.”
Infectious Disease News spoke with numerous experts about the burden of infectious diseases that children continue to bear and the challenges of developing desperately needed therapies for this vulnerable patient population.
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