Pharmacology; Pain; General Paediatrics
To determine the extent of inter-individual variation in clearance of midazolam in children and establish which factors are responsible for this variation.
A systematic literature review was performed to identify papers describing the clearance of midazolam in children. The following databases were searched: Medline, Embase, International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, CINAHL and Cochrane Library. From the papers, the range in plasma clearance and the coefficient of variation (CV) in plasma clearance were determined.
25 articles were identified. Only 13 studies gave the full range of clearance values for individual patients. The CV was greater in critically ill patients (18%–170%) than non-critically ill patients (13%–54%). Inter-individual variation was a major problem in all age groups of critically ill patients. The CV was 72%–106% in preterm neonates, 18%–73% in term neonates, 31%–130% in infants, 21%–170% in children and 47%–150% in adolescents. The mean clearance was higher in children (1.1–16.7 mL/min/kg) than in neonates (0.78–2.5 mL/min/kg).
Large inter-individual variation was seen in midazolam clearance values in critically ill neonates, infants, children and adolescents.
Pharmacology; General Paediatrics
To explore the quality and safety of medicines in Canada.
A retrospective review of drug recalls and risk communication documents conveying issues relating to defective (ie, substandard and falsified) medicines.
The Health Canada website search for drug recalls and risk communication documents issued between 2005 and 2013.
Drug recalls and risk communication documents related to quality defect in medicinal products.
Main outcome measure
Relevant data about defective medicines reported in drug recalls and risk communication documents, including description of the defect, type of formulation, year of the recall and category of the recall or the document.
There were 653 defective medicines of which 649 were substandard. The number of defective medicines reported by Health Canada increased from 42 in 2005 to 143 in 2013. The two most frequently reported types of defects were stability (205 incidents) and contamination issues (139 incidents). Some of these defects were found to be more prominent and repetitive over other types within some manufacturers. Tablet formulation (251 incidents) was the formulation most frequently compromised. No significant differences were observed between the manufacturers and distributors in the number of substandard medicines reported under each defect type. There were only four falsified medicines reported over the 9-year period.
Substandard medicines are a problem in Canada and have resulted in an increasing number of recalled medicines. Most of the failures were related to stability issues, raising the need to investigate the root causes and for stringent preventative measures to be implemented by manufacturers.
Substandard medicines; Falsified medicines; Drug recalls
Valproic acid is an effective first line drug for the treatment of epilepsy. Hepatotoxicity is a rare and potentially fatal adverse reaction for this medicine.
Firstly to characterise valproic acid reports on children with fatal outcome and secondly to determine reporting over time of hepatotoxicity with fatal outcome.
Individual case safety reports (ICSRs) for children ≤17 years with valproic acid and fatal outcome were retrieved from the WHO Global ICSR database, VigiBase, in June 2013. Reports were classified into hepatotoxic reactions or other reactions. Shrinkage observed-to-expected ratios were used to explore the relative reporting trend over time and for patient age. The frequency of polytherapy, i.e. reports with more than one antiepileptic medicine, was investigated.
There have been 268 ICSRs with valproic acid and fatal outcome in children, reported from 25 countries since 1977. A total of 156 fatalities were reported with hepatotoxicity, which has been continuously and disproportionally reported over time. There were 31 fatalities with pancreatitis. Other frequently reported events were coma/encephalopathy, seizures, respiratory disorders and coagulopathy. Hepatotoxicity was disproportionally and most commonly reported in children aged 6 years and under (104/156 reports) but affected children of all ages. Polytherapy was significantly more frequently reported for valproic acid with fatal outcome (58%) compared with non-fatal outcome (34%).
Hepatotoxicity remains a considerable problem. The risk appears to be greatest in young children (6 years and below) but can occur at any age. Polytherapy is commonly reported and seems to be a risk factor for hepatotoxicity, pancreatitis and other serious adverse drug reactions with valproic acid.
The aim of this study was to provide an overview of studies in which the impact of the 2008 economic crisis on child health was reported. Structured searches of PubMed, and ISI Web of Knowledge, were conducted. Quantitative and qualitative studies reporting health outcomes on children, published since 2007 and related to the 2008 economic crisis were included. Two reviewers independently assessed studies for inclusion. Data were synthesised as a narrative review. Five hundred and six titles and abstracts were reviewed, from which 22 studies were included. The risk of bias for quantitative studies was mixed while qualitative studies showed low risk of bias. An excess of 28,000–50,000 infant deaths in 2009 was estimated in sub-Saharan African countries, and increased infant mortality in Greece was reported. Increased price of foods was related to worsening nutrition habits in disadvantaged families worldwide. An increase in violence against children was reported in the U.S., and inequalities in health-related quality of life appeared in some countries. Most studies suggest that the economic crisis has harmed children’s health, and disproportionately affected the most vulnerable groups. There is an urgent need for further studies to monitor the child health effects of the global recession and to inform appropriate public policy responses.
adolescent; child health; economic and financial crisis; inequalities
To explore the evidence available of poor-quality (counterfeit and substandard) medicines in the literature.
Databases used were EMBASE, MEDLINE, PubMed and the International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, including articles published till January 2013.
Prevalence studies containing original data. WHO definitions (1992) used for counterfeit and substandard medicines.
Study appraisal and synthesis
Two reviewers independently scored study methodology against recommendations from the MEDQUARG Checklist. Studies were classified according to the World Bank classification of countries by income.
Data extracted: place of study; type of drugs sampled; sample size; percentage of substandard/counterfeit medicines; formulations included; origin of the drugs; chemical analysis and stated issues of counterfeit/substandard medicines.
44 prevalence studies were identified, 15 had good methodological quality. They were conducted in 25 different countries; the majority were in low-income countries (11) and/or lower middle-income countries (10). The median prevalence of substandard/counterfeit medicines was 28.5% (range 11–48%). Only two studies differentiated between substandard and counterfeit medicines. Prevalence data were limited to antimicrobial drugs (all 15 studies). 13 studies involved antimalarials, 6 antibiotics and 2 other medications. The majority of studies (93%) contained samples with inadequate amounts of active ingredients. The prevalence of substandard/counterfeit antimicrobials was significantly higher when purchased from unlicensed outlets (p<0.000; 95% CI 0.21 to 0.32). No individual data about the prevalence in upper middle-income countries and high-income countries were available.
Studies with strong methodology were few. The majority did not differentiate between substandard and counterfeit medicines. Most studies assessed only a single therapeutic class of antimicrobials.
The prevalence of poor-quality antimicrobial medicines is widespread throughout Africa and Asia in lower income countries and lower middle-income countries . The main problem identified was inadequate amounts of the active ingredients.
counterfeit drug; substandard drug; fake drug; anti-infective ; drug counterfeiting
To determine the extent of substandard and falsified medicines in the UK.
A retrospective review of drug alerts and company-led recalls.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) website search for drug alerts issued between 2001 and 2011.
Drug alerts related to quality defect in medicinal products.
Main outcome measure
Relevant data about defective medicines reported in drug alerts and company-led recalls, including description of the defect, type of formulation, year of the alert and category of the alert.
There were 280 substandard medicines of which 222 were recalled. The two most frequent problems were contamination (74 incidents) and issues related to packaging (98 incidents). Formulations for parenteral administration (117 incidents) were the formulation most frequently affected. There were 11 falsified medicines, as defined by the MHRA, reported over the 11-year period. The number of defective medicines reported by the MHRA increased 10-fold from 5 in 2001 to 50 in 2011.
Substandard medicines are a significant problem in the UK. It is uncertain whether the increasing number of reports relates to improved detection or an increase in the number of substandard medicines.
Falsified; Substandard; Defective; Medicines
To determine the safety of fluconazole in neonates and other paediatric age groups by identifying adverse events (AEs) and drug interactions associated with treatment.
A search of EMBASE (1950–January 2012), MEDLINE (1946–January 2012), the Cochrane database for systematic reviews and the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (1982–2012) for any clinical study about fluconazole use that involved at least one paediatric patient (≤17 years) was performed. Only articles with sufficient quality of safety reporting after patients’ exposure to fluconazole were included.
We identified 90 articles, reporting on 4,209 patients, which met our inclusion criteria. In total, 794 AEs from 35 studies were recorded, with hepatotoxicity accounting for 378 (47.6 %) of all AEs. When fluconazole was compared with placebo and other antifungals, the relative risk (RR) of hepatotoxicity was not statistically different [RR 1.36, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 0.87–2.14, P = 0.175 and RR 1.43, 95 % CI 0.67–3.03, P = 0.352, respectively]. Complete resolution of hepatoxicity was achieved by 84 % of patients with follow-up available. There was no statistical difference in the risk of gastrointestinal events of fluconazole compared with placebo and other antifungals (RR 0.81, 95 % CI 0.12–5.60, P = 0.831 and RR 1.23, 95 %CI 0.87–1.71, P = 0.235, respectively). There were 41 drug withdrawals, 17 (42 %) of which were due to elevated liver enzymes. Five reports of drug interactions occurred in children.
Fluconazole is relatively safe for paediatric patients. Hepatotoxicity and gastrointestinal toxicity are the most common adverse events. It is important to be aware that drug interactions with fluconazole can result in significant toxicity.
Fluconazole; Safety; Neonates; Paediatrics; Hepatotoxicity
Medication errors are a significant global concern and can cause serious medical consequences for patients. Little is known about medication errors in Middle Eastern countries. The objectives of this systematic review were to review studies of the incidence and types of medication errors in Middle Eastern countries and to identify the main contributory factors involved.
A systematic review of the literature related to medication errors in Middle Eastern countries was conducted in October 2011 using the following databases: Embase, Medline, Pubmed, the British Nursing Index and the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature. The search strategy included all ages and languages. Inclusion criteria were that the studies assessed or discussed the incidence of medication errors and contributory factors to medication errors during the medication treatment process in adults or in children.
Forty-five studies from 10 of the 15 Middle Eastern countries met the inclusion criteria. Nine (20 %) studies focused on medication errors in paediatric patients. Twenty-one focused on prescribing errors, 11 measured administration errors, 12 were interventional studies and one assessed transcribing errors. Dispensing and documentation errors were inadequately evaluated. Error rates varied from 7.1 % to 90.5 % for prescribing and from 9.4 % to 80 % for administration. The most common types of prescribing errors reported were incorrect dose (with an incidence rate from 0.15 % to 34.8 % of prescriptions), wrong frequency and wrong strength. Computerised physician rder entry and clinical pharmacist input were the main interventions evaluated. Poor knowledge of medicines was identified as a contributory factor for errors by both doctors (prescribers) and nurses (when administering drugs). Most studies did not assess the clinical severity of the medication errors.
Studies related to medication errors in the Middle Eastern countries were relatively few in number and of poor quality. Educational programmes on drug therapy for doctors and nurses are urgently needed.
Medication error; Middle East countries; Prescribing; Administration; Transcribing
To describe the use of ciprofloxacin and fluconazole for the treatment of sepsis in European neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) in order to better orient research aimed at acquiring essential knowledge in this critical area.
The survey consisted of an online questionnaire for all participating NICUs on treatment schemes employed, rationales behind drug choices and interest in participation in research involving the two drugs.
A total of 189 level II and III NICUs participated in the survey, representing 25 countries, with Italy, UK and France providing the greatest number of centres (54 % of total). Ciprofloxacin is used in 25 % of NICUs that responded, although the indications for administering it vary between centres and the dosage ranges vary considerably, with 25 % of NICUs giving ≤10 mg/kg/day and another 25 % giving ≥21 mg/kg/day. Factors given as affecting the decision to use ciprofloxacin are uncertainty about its safety and pharmacokinetics and level of penetration in the cerebrospinal fluid. Among the 70 % of responding units that use fluconazole to treat fungal infection, 45 % administer 6 mg/kg unit doses while 33 % administer 12 mg/kg; 41 % of NICUs use a 24-h interval between administrations while 20 % wait 72 h. Among the responding NICUs, 57 % were willing to participate in a project on ciprofloxacin and 59 % would consider participating in a randomized controlled trial evaluating fluconazole versus micafungin.
Great variability in therapies exists within and between countries. Numerous centres are interested in participating in research on these drugs, highlighting the need for further knowledge on sepsis treatment and European centres’ interest in off-patent medicine research.
Data collection; Intensive care units, neonatal; Sepsis; Ciprofloxacin; Fluconazole
Neonatal fungal infections are associated with substantial mortality and morbidity. Although prophylactic use of several antifungals has been proposed, this practice remains controversial. In order to evaluate the use of fluconazole prophylaxis in European NICUs, we conducted a cross-sectional survey by means of a structured questionnaire that was sent to European level II and III neonatal intensive care units, over a 9-month period, as part of a neonatal research FP7 European project. A total of 193 questionnaires from 28 countries were analysed. Use of antifungal prophylaxis was reported by 55% of the responders, and the most frequently used antifungal agent was fluconazole (92%). Main indications for prophylaxis were low gestational age (<28 weeks) and birth weight (<1,000 g). A dose of 3 mg/kg was used in 66% of NICUs using fluconazole, with an administration interval of 72 h in 52% of them. All responders acknowledged the need for additional trials on the efficacy of prophylactic fluconazole. Non-users of fluconazole prophylaxis were more likely to be influenced by the local incidence of candidiasis, the risk of increasing antifungal resistance and the absence of specific recommendations by paediatric societies. Conclusions: Major concerns about the use of fluconazole prophylaxis include its efficacy, the risk of emergence of resistant species and the absence of clear consensus to support routine use. Future studies that address these issues will contribute to a more rational use of fluconazole prophylaxis.
Fluconazole; Prophylaxis; Neonatology; Intensive care; Survey
There is now greater involvement of children in drug trials to ensure that paediatric medicines are supported by sound scientific evidence. The safety of the participating children is of paramount importance. Previous research shows that these children can suffer moderate and severe adverse drug reactions (ADRs) in clinical trials, yet very few of the trials designated a data safety monitoring board (DSMB) to oversee the trial.
Safety data from a systematic review of paediatric drug randomised controlled trials (RCTs) published in 2007 were analysed. All reported adverse events (AEs) were classified and assessed to determine whether an ADR had been experienced. ADRs were then categorised according to severity. Each trial report was examined as to whether an independent DSMB was in place.
Of the 582 paediatric drug RCTs analysed, 210 (36%) reported that a serious AE had occurred, and in 15% mortality was reported. ADRs were detected in more than half of the RCTs (305); 66 (11%) were severe, and 79 (14%) were moderate. Severe ADRs involved a wide range of organ systems and were frequently associated with cytotoxic drugs, antiparasitics, anticonvulsants and psychotropic drugs. Two RCTs reported significantly higher mortality rates in the treatment group. Only 69 (12%) of the RCTs stated there was a DSMB. DSMBs terminated five RCTs and changed the protocol in one.
Children participating in drug RCTs experience a significant amount and a wide range of ADRs. DSMBs are needed to ensure the safety of paediatric participants in clinical drug trials.
Paediatric clinical trials; Adverse drug reactions (ADRs); Drug safety; Data safety monitoring boards (DSMBs); Systematic review
New legislation encourages the drug industry to produce high quality transparent research
Perspective on the paper by Garcia‐Bournissen et al(see page 351)
drug abuse; methamphetamine; pregnancy; toxicity
Informed consent is the backbone of a clinical trial. In children this is given by their parents. There have been many studies in the neonatal population but little is known about the views of the parents of infants and young children from within the United Kingdom. The objectives of this study were to assess what motivates parents to consent to a randomised clinical trial (RCT), their feelings on consent and participation and the factors that would influence their decision to take part in a future study.
The setting was a multi-centre randomised but non-blinded equivalence trial of oral versus intravenous (IV) treatment for community acquired pneumonia in previously well children aged 6 months to 16 years in the UK (PIVOT Study). Parents were sent a postal questionnaire at the end of the study which included open and closed-ended questions. Fishers Exact Test was used to analyse associations in non parametric categorical data.
243 children were recruited into the PIVOT study. Of a possible 235, 136 questionnaires were returned (response rate 59%). Of those questionnaires returned; 98% of parents remembered consenting, 95% felt they were given enough time to make their decision and 96% felt they received enough information. Major reasons for participation were benefit to other children in the future 31%, contribution to science 27%, benefit to their own child 18%. Most parents (85%) did not feel obliged to participate. 62% felt there was an advantage to taking part and 18% felt there was a disadvantage. 91% of parents said they would take part in a similar study in the future, stating influences on their decision being benefit to their own child (91%) and benefit to all children (89%).
The major motivation in parents consenting for their previously well child to participate in an RCT of therapy for an acute medical illness was to increase medical knowledge in the future. Most saw an advantage in taking part in the trial and did not feel obliged to participate.
To determine the extent of use of unlicensed and off label drugs in children in hospital in five European countries.
Prospective study of drugs administered to children in general paediatric medical wards over four weeks.
Children’s wards in five hospitals (one each in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands).
Children aged 4 days to 16 years admitted to general paediatric medical wards.
Main outcome measure
Proportion of drugs that were used in an unlicensed or off label manner.
2262 drug prescriptions were administered to 624 children in the five hospitals. Almost half of all drug prescriptions (1036; 46%) were either unlicensed or off label. Of these 1036, 872 were off label and 164 were unlicensed. Over half of the patients (421; 67%) received an unlicensed or off label drug prescription.
Use of off label or unlicensed drugs to treat children is widespread. This problem is likely to affect children throughout Europe and requires European action.
Key messagesMany drugs are not tested in children, which means that they are not specifically licensed for use in childrenLicensed drugs are often prescribed outside the terms of the product license (off label) in relation to age, indication, dose of frequency, route of administration, or formulationOver two thirds (67%) of 624 children admitted to wards in five European hospitals received drugs prescribed in an unlicensed or off label manner39% of the 2262 drug prescriptions given to children were off labelThe problem of off label and unlicensed drug prescribing in children is a European problem that requires European action
Armed conflict has a major impact on child health throughout the world. One in six children worldwide lives in an area of armed conflict and civilians are more likely to die than soldiers as a result of the conflict. In stark contrast to the effect on children, the international arms trade results in huge profits for the large corporations involved in producing arms, weapons and munitions. Armed conflict is not inevitable but is an important health issue that should be prevented.
To describe access to antiepileptic drug therapy and estimate the prevalence of epilepsy in children in Camagüey Province, Cuba.
All the community pharmacies in the province were visited and information collected about the number of children receiving antiepileptic drugs in 2009. Availability and cost of each antiepileptic drug were determined. The prevalence of epilepsy was estimated by determining the number of children receiving antiepileptic drugs.
There were 923 children who received a total of 977 antiepileptic drugs in Camagüey Province. The estimated prevalence of epilepsy was 5.18 per thousand children which is lower than previously reported rates in other low and lower-middle income countries. Most of the children (871, 94%) received a single antiepileptic drug. Carbamazepine and valproate were the two most frequently prescribed antiepileptic drugs. Antiepileptic drugs were available from the local pharmacy on 76% of occasions. If the antiepileptic drug was not available from the local pharmacy, the parent had to travel to another pharmacy to obtain the medicine.
The estimated prevalence of epilepsy in children in Cuba is lower than that estimated in other lower-middle income countries. Access to drug therapy in children with epilepsy can be achieved in lower-middle income countries.
access; antiepileptic drug; epilepsy
Epidemiology; Evidence Based Medicine