These longstanding problems with potential health risks have triggered an international response in the form of the European Union (EU)-funded GRiP (Global Research in Paediatrics) project.
Since 2011 the GRiP network of specialists in the medical care of children (paediatrics) has been working to improve the development and safe use of medicines for children. With involvement from research institutes and organisations from across Asia, Europe and the United States, as well as partnerships with major international networks, the project involves input from more than 1,000 researchers.
To pool this information, an ‘infrastructure matrix’ on the safe use of medicine in children has been developed. This ‘matrix’ is linking existing healthcare databases in Europe and the US to assess the occurrence of diseases in children and the effects of drugs used (including vaccines).
“We have developed an international platform for paediatric drug formulation. This enables us to share knowledge and educate professionals on drug development and support clinical trials worldwide,” explains Carlo Giaquinto, coordinator of the GRiP network. “Our ultimate goal is to better use the available knowledge and the existing research capacity. We focus particularly on the needs of newborn babies,” he adds.
Research needs to be stepped up in this area and the GRiP project is developing an internationally recognised training programme to increase the number of trained paediatric clinical pharmacologists, researchers and formulation scientists.
The team is also exploring new procedures and methodologies for clinical trials in children in order to fill the important gaps that currently exist in paediatric medicine.
“The infrastructure matrix and training programme being developed by the GRiP team are essential tools for improving the safe use of medicines for children. The project brings together an exceptional range of high quality scientists and organisations that are active in the EU and US paediatric medicines research,” says Carlo Giaquinto.
The work of the GRiP team is expected to support the paediatric legislation being introduced in the EU and the US which obliges companies to test the impact of new drugs on children.