The path to getting a pediatric drug through clinical trials just got tougher. According to a new report by the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, many parents are unwilling to allow their children to participate in medical research, mainly because they fear their children will be harmed or feel their children are being used as “guinea pigs” for new medication. The report was based on a poll of more than 2000 adults that found only 30% of parents would be willling to take part in the clinical trial of a new drug, while only 36% would “consider” it if their child had a particular disease being studied. However, 77% did say they they would take only part in a study for FDA-approved medicines.
As a parent, I completely understand. The well-known cases of recalls, contaminations, long-term side effects, and adverse events has lead to great public mistrust. Coincidentally (or perhaps as a result), the Pharmaceutical Reseach and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) last week started a new ”Sharing Miracles” television campaign to help educate the public about what drug companies are working on and the good the industry has done so far. The first wave will discuss achievements in cancer research, which according to PhRMA, is the number one area of medical research.
Will this be enough to encourage more parents to get involved in pediatric clinical trials? Will they know that clinical trials during the past 30 years have improved survival rates for children from less than 50% to more than 85% (according to V. Castle, MD, chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the U of Michigan Health System)? What role does the pharmaceutical industry play in ensuring patients are well educated about participating in these trials to ensure innovation progresses?