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Children being denied new cancer drugs

A study released this morning revealed that too few children are receiving targeted drugs for their cancers

A study released this morning revealed that too few children are receiving potentially life-saving targeted drugs for their cancers.

Widely reported in the press, the study in the European Journal of Cancer found that just 7% of children were receiving such precision medicines despite research form the Royal Marsden Hospital and the Institute of Cancer Research stating that children could benefit more from such medicines than adults.

The researchers concluded that the rules governing such targeted drugs were being “too cautious”.

The report deals with precision medicines, those that target the specific mutation present in cancer. Currently in wide use in adults the report examined how this could be used in children.

Looking at a sample from 223 children the researchers found that 51% cases could benefit from such targeted drugs but that only 7% actually were.

Despite some children being on pioneering immunotherapy trials already, the researchers were critical of the current system that rarely trialled such drugs even when they were effective on adults.

We know that it should be a matter of the highest priority that children have the same access to life-saving drugs and treatments as adults.

Significant progress is being made in the field of precision medicine but at a time of the utmost stress and anxiety for parents, following a child’s brain tumour diagnosis, we believe that there should not be insurmountable hurdles for children to access the best drugs to give them the best chance of survival and a better quality of life.

We need pharmaceutical companies and regulators alike to work together to ensure the existing barriers that stop children being put on potentially life-saving clinical trials are overcome once and for all.