Alarm at medicines given to children

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The Independent Online
UP TO half of medicines prescribed to children have not been properly tested or licensed for use on them.

Concerns over paediatricians being forced to guess doses for youngsters have led doctors to publish a comprehensive guide to drug doses commonly used for children and babies, after making a three-year study.

"It became clear to us that nearly a majority of medicines given to children are given outside the licensing indications," said Sir David Hull, chairman of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) formulary advisory group.

"The reason the Medicines Control Agency gives a licence to sell a product is on the basis of evidence of efficacy and quality. But often it is difficult to collect evidence of safety and efficacy in children."

The Medicines For Children guide was launched by RCPCH, with the Neo- Natal and Paediatric Pharmacist Group. Doctors urged the Government to encourage pharmaceutical companies to carry out further clinical tests of drugs that are being provided for use on children, to promote their safety. This is regarded as especially important for those aged under 16.