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Survey finds 194 children's medicines in development

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A new survey by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) finds 194 new medicines in development for children by 93 pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

"These new medicines offer hope that the vast improvement in children's health achieved through pharmaceutical research over the past few decades will continue," said PhRMA President Alan F. Holmer.

Holmer pointed out that until the 20th century death came before adolescence for about half of all U.S. children.

"Medicines and vaccines -- along with improvements in sanitation and other public health measures -- are enabling more children to grow into healthy adults," he said, pointing to progress against infant mortality, diphtheria, pneumonia, polio, measles, meningitis, leukemia and other childhood cancers.

"A diagnosis of leukemia was once considered a virtual death warrant; today, thanks to effective drugs, eight out of ten children survive the disease," said Holmer. "And death rates for all childhood cancers have dropped by 57 percent since the 1970s."

Cancer, which is still the leading disease killer of children, is the target of 32 medicines in development for children. Other potential medicines include:

  • 10 for asthma, which affects about 7.7 million American children and is the most common chronic disease of childhood;
  • 10 for AIDS and related disorders, which affect more than 13,000 American children under age 19;
  • 11 for mental illnesses, from which an estimated 1 in 10 children suffers but for which only 1 in 5 of these children receives treatment;
  • 16 for cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that afflicts some 30,000 children and young adults.

Other medicines in the pipeline for children target diabetes, epilepsy, eye disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, familial high cholesterol, congenital heart disease, Crohn's disease, mucopolysaccharidosis, Fabry's disease, sickle cell disease, Duchenne's muscular dystrophy, Pompe disease, ear infections, pneumonia, cerebral palsy, autism, bronchitis, and other diseases.

Posted: June 2002