NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Recruiting Children for Drug Trials

May 31, 2002

Researchers are said to be "in a frenzy" in search of youngsters to participate in clinical trials of new drugs. Teenagers, elementary school students and even newborns are in short supply compared to the numbers needed for the tests prior the marketing of new drugs.

  • There are currently 194 medicines and vaccines in development for children.
  • But experts say that over half the studies are in crisis because patient recruitment efforts are failing.
  • Last year, nearly 60,000 children took part in trials to evaluate new medicines and study drugs already on the market.
  • Some trials are offering cash, gift certificates, records and t-shirts to children as part of the recruiting process.

 The shortage has been exacerbated by a 1997 federal law giving drug companies profitable extensions of their exclusive marketing rights for medicines in exchange for studying those medicines in children. The law was passed due to political pressure for new medicines be tested on kids.

The top five areas of pediatric drug testing last year were for cancer, infectious diseases, cardiovascular disease, psychiatric disorders and cystic fibrosis and asthma.

Source: Rachel Zimmerman, "Desperately Seeking Kids for Clinical Trials," Wall Street Journal, May 29, 2002.


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