The World Health Organization has announced a $9.7 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in support of its efforts to increase the number of child-size medicines designed and formulated specifically for children.
Working with UNICEF, WHO will use the grant to determine optimum dosage forms for pediatric medicines; develop dosing guides; and create guidelines for the testing, treatment, and use of medicines in children, including guidelines related to the conduct of clinical trials involving children. The research will build on the WHO-led Make Medicines Child Size initiative, which was launched in 2007 to help improve access to better medicines for children.
More than 50 percent of medicines currently prescribed for children either have not been developed specifically for children or have not been proven to be effective and safe for their use. As a result, many children lack access to essential treatments because no suitable pediatric dosage or formulation of the necessary medicine exists, while those that do exist are not available or are too expensive.
"We must take the guess work out of medicines for children," said WHO assistant director-general Carissa Etienne. "Children are suffering and dying from diseases we can treat, and yet we lack the critical evidence needed to deliver appropriate, effective, affordable medicines that might save them."