Are Pediatric Studies A Waste Of Time

New initiatives aim to lessen the obstacles to finding useful treatments for children

Parents considering whether to enroll a child in a clinical trial often face a barrage of conflicting emotions. In addition, they also find that after participation, while lengthy and arduous, are at times for naught.  According to a 2016 study,  researchers found that more than 40% were never finished or never published. More than 77,500 children participated in studies that contributed little or nothing to advance treatments because the research disappeared from scientific view.

Research found that the biggest reason why studies failed was that they could not attract enough children to participate in the first place.

Children are  much less likely than adults to suffer serious illnesses.  Drug companies have a good track record for enrolling enough children to finish their investigations. But fewer of their results actually appear by comparison with academic trials paid for by other organizations, publishing only the studies with positive results.

Making improvements in clinical trials generally require greater coordination and collaboration among several groups of people. Among the challenges is the need for better communication among the professionals who try to enroll new participants in a trial and the children’s caregivers.

Other barriers that might keep them from participating include transportation or parents might feel there is no value in getting involved should their children be assigned to a control group.

On the publication front, federal agencies are trying to ensure that investigators make their results available for others to see. Investigators in the U.S. are required to register new trials and post final results and those that do not can face stiff penalties. The FDA can fine noncompliant drug companies and pull support from its sponsored scientists. The law is full of ambiguities about which clinical trials had to register with the site and what kinds of results they had to report. But this and other efforts should, at the very least, reduce the chances that the contributions made by the youngest participants of scientific studies will be lost.