In pediatric medical circles, we take any opportunity to remind anyone who will listen that “children are not small adults.” We make the distinction because treating children takes special care. You can’t just take adult medicine and “cut it down to size” for children.
Unfortunately, when it comes to disease and treatment research, children take just a small slice out of the federal funding pie. We’re fortunate in Ohio to have a United States Senator, Sherrod Brown, who knows that’s just not right.
“We are woefully short in our efforts to treat rare pediatric diseases” declares the headline of a press release from Brown’s office this week.
At a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing this week, a hearing called at his request, Brown noted that while children make up more than 20 percent of the American population, “pediatric research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) accounts for a mere 5 to 10 percent of the total NIH budget.”
Furthermore, Brown said in the news release, “If we are falling short in our efforts to cure and treat pediatric diseases and conditions – we are falling woefully and inadequately short in our efforts to cure and treat rare and neglected pediatric diseases and conditions. Seven thousand known rare or orphan diseases afflict nearly 30 million Americans – approximately 50 percent of whom are children.”
Brown has introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Christopher Bond (R-MO) that would create a nationally-coordinated research network to pursue new treatments and cures for childhood diseases, the Pediatric Research Consortia Establishment Act. Modeled after the highly successful National Cancer Institute Centers, these consortia would conduct both basic and translational research. This legislation would address existing gaps in pediatric research in order to facilitate the development of new treatments for our nation’s children.
Cincinnati Children’s is proud to be a charter member of this consortium, which includes 21 other children’s hospitals from coast to coast.
During the hearing, Brown made a number of points we think bear repeating here:
“The unfortunate reality is that – whether we’re talking education, poverty, violence, or health – the well-being of our nation’s children is not made a high enough priority.
“While great strides are being made with respect to children’s health – thanks to Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the recently passed health reform legislation – there are still areas where our efforts fall short …
“Despite the fact that children account for more than 20 percent of our nation’s population, most drugs on the market today have never been tested in children.
“If we are falling short in our efforts to cure and treat pediatric diseases and conditions – we are falling woefully and inadequately short in our efforts to cure and treat rare and neglected pediatric diseases and conditions …”
We applaud Sen. Brown for his efforts and we stand ready to assist him and our partners at pediatric health centers across the country to do what we must to “change the outcome” for our children and, ultimately, for the world.