Traditionally, drug discovery and development research have been primarily focused on the mitigation of disease treatment for the general adult population, often overlooking the medical needs of pediatric patients. While remarkable progress toward the discovery of better medicines has been made, the pharmacological differences between children and adults are often neglected as part of the translation process. In fact, until recently, children have been considered therapeutic orphans due to the lack of significant drug discovery, formulation development, and dosage form design specifically tailored for pediatric patients. Perhaps the least understood is the significant physiological changes that occur during the maturation process from birth to adulthood. It requires careful considerations to achieve age-specific-desired therapeutic outcomes with minimal toxicity. This introduces considerable risk into the preclinical and clinical testing of new medicaments, which until recently, was avoided based on the conventional approach where a demonstration of safe and efficacious use in adults over several years potentially would minimize the chance of adverse juvenile responses. However, the lack of appropriate drug products for children has led to off-label use of adult medicines with potential life-threatening adverse reactions and health complications. Recent developments and future considerations regarding pediatric drug discovery and development using a patient-centric approach in the context of ontogenic biopharmaceutical considerations are discussed below.
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Lavan, M., Byrn, S.R. & Knipp, G. Pediatric Formulations: Knowledge Gaps Limiting the Expedited Preclinical to Clinical Translation in Children. AAPS PharmSciTech 20, 73 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1208/s12249-018-1253-3
- therapeutic orphans
- recent developments
- patient centric