Public Release: 

Liverpool to lead £20M Department of Health initiative to develop medicines for children

University of Liverpool

Many of the medicines used to treat children have been designed for adults, and have not been properly tested on the young. Health professionals use their skill and judgement when prescribing medicines for children but uncertainty can result in inappropriate dosing or inadequate efficacy.

The initiative will take the development of children's medicines to a new level, with the establishment of a national research network to undertake important clinical studies into the safety and effectiveness of medicines for children. The University will become the Co-ordinating Centre for this new network, to be based at the Institute of Child Health at Alder Hey site.

The UK Medicines For Children Research Network will enable the development of a wide variety of drugs for children, including those for the prevention and treatment of diseases affecting newborns and children on intensive care.

Researchers will work towards developing treatments for a range of diseases in children such as meningitis, asthma, epilepsy and migraine. The network will involve all types of health professionals, the pharmaceutical industry and most importantly, children and parents, in the development of new medicines.

Health Secretary, John Reid, said: "Currently most medicines are designed primarily for adults. The £20million we are spending on setting up the UK Medicines For Children Research Network will lead to safer and more effective treatments designed specifically for children. This network will bring together the pharmaceutical industry and the NHS to achieve better development of children's medicines."

Rosalind Smyth, Professor of Paediatric Medicine, will become Director of the new Co-ordinating Centre. She said: "This national initiative has the potential to make a real difference for children, parents and prescribers by making sure that existing and new medicines are tailored to the needs of children. Children have the right to the same standards of medicine as adults and this strategy is another step towards achieving this."

The UK Medicines For Children Research Network is the latest step in the Department of Health's paediatric medicines strategy. The strategy aims to improve the development of children's medicines. The UK has been pushing hard for change in this area and negotiations are currently underway in Europe on proposed regulation of medicines for paediatric use.

The Research Network has been developed in collaboration with Imperial College, London, the Liverpool Women's Hospital, the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford and the National Children's Bureau.

The £20M grant, over five years, will help to establish a world-class health service infrastructure to support clinical research and embed good clinical practice and quality in all trials. This will include a national information technology system for research data capture, storage and retrieval, based in Liverpool.

The Co-ordinating Centre will establish local research networks across the UK that will support clinical research in all relevant settings, particularly in primary care.


Notes to editors

1. The University of Liverpool is one of the UK's leading research institutions with a prodigious spread of expertise - from the humanities and social sciences to engineering, science, veterinary science and medicine. It attracts collaborative and contract research commissions from a wide range of national and international organisations - commissions valued at more than £80 million annually.

2. The Royal Liverpool Children's NHS Trust is one of the largest Children's Trusts in Europe, providing world-class care to 200,000 children and young people every year. The Trust carries out a programme of research into a broad range of children's health matters.

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