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
Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) is one of the most severe muco-cutaneous diseases and its occurrence is often attributed to drug use. The aim of the present study is to quantify the risk of SJS in association with drug and vaccine use in children.
A multicenter surveillance of children hospitalized through the emergency departments for acute conditions of interest is currently ongoing in Italy. Cases with a diagnosis of SJS were retrieved from all admissions. Parents were interviewed on child’s use of drugs and vaccines preceding the onset of symptoms that led to the hospitalization. We compared the use of drugs and vaccines in cases with the corresponding use in a control group of children hospitalized for acute neurological conditions.
Twenty-nine children with a diagnosis of SJS and 1,362 with neurological disorders were hospitalized between 1st November 1999 and 31st October 2012. Cases were more frequently exposed to drugs (79% vs 58% in the control group; adjusted OR 2.4; 95% CI 1.0–6.1). Anticonvulsants presented the highest adjusted OR: 26.8 (95% CI 8.4–86.0). Significantly elevated risks were also estimated for antibiotics use (adjusted OR 3.3; 95% CI 1.5–7.2), corticosteroids (adjusted OR 4.2; 95% CI 1.8–9.9) and paracetamol (adjusted OR 3.2; 95% CI 1.5–6.9). No increased risk was estimated for vaccines (adjusted OR: 0.9; 95% CI 0.3–2.8).
Our study provides additional evidence on the etiologic role of drugs and vaccines in the occurrence of SJS in children.
The need for encouraging pediatric drug research is widely recognized. However, hospital-based clinical trials of drug treatments are extremely time-consuming, and delays in trial implementation are common. The objective of this qualitative study was to collect information on the perceptions and experience of health professionals involved in hospital-based pediatric drug trials.
Two independent researchers conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews with principal investigators (n = 17), pharmacists (n = 7), sponsor representatives (n = 4), and drug regulatory agency representatives (n = 3) who participated in institutionally sponsored clinical trials of experimental drugs in pediatric patients between 2002 and 2008.
Dissatisfaction was reported by 67% (16/24) of principal investigators and pharmacists: all 7 pharmacists felt they were involved too late in the trial implementation process, whereas 11 (65%) principal investigators complained of an excessive regulatory burden and felt they were insufficiently involved in the basic research questions. Both groups perceived clinical trial implementation as burdensome and time-consuming. The sponsor and regulatory agency representatives reported a number of difficulties but were not dissatisfied.
The heavy burden related to regulatory requirements, and suboptimal communication across disciplines involved, seem to be the main reasons for the major delays in pediatric drug trial implementation. The pharmaceutical aspects are intrinsically tied to trial methodology and implementation and must therefore be examined, in particular by involving Clinical Research Pharmacists at early stages of study conception.
Children who require fluid resuscitation for the treatment of shock present to tertiary and non-tertiary medical settings. While timely fluid therapy improves survival odds, guidelines are poorly translated into clinical practice. The objective of this study was to characterize the attitudes, preferences and beliefs of health care providers working in acute care settings regarding pediatric fluid resuscitation performance.
A single-centre survey study was conducted at McMaster Children's Hospital from January to May, 2012. The sampling frame (n = 115) included nursing staff, physician staff and subspecialty trainees working in Pediatric Emergency Medicine (PEM) or Pediatric Critical Care Medicine (PCCM). A self-administered questionnaire was developed and assessed for face validity prior to distribution. Eligible participants were invited at 0, 2, and 4 weeks to complete a web-based version of the survey. A follow-up survey administration phase was conducted to improve the response rate.
Response rate was 72.2% (83/115), with 83% (68/82) self-identifying as nursing staff and 61% (50/82) as PCCM providers. Resuscitation experience, frequency of shock management, and years in specialty, were similar between PCCM and PEM responders. Physicians and nurses had differing opinions regarding the most effective method to achieve rapid fluid resuscitation in young children presenting in shock (p<0.001). Disagreement also existed regarding the age and size of patients in whom rapid infuser devices, such as the Level-1 Rapid Infuser, should be used (p<0.001). Providers endorsed a number of potential concerns related to the use of rapid infuser devices in children, and only 14% of physicians and 55% of nursing staff felt that they had received adequate training in the use of such devices (p = 0.005).
There is a lack of consensus among health care providers regarding how pediatric fluid resuscitation guidelines should be operationalized, supporting a need for further work to define best practices.
The dearth of age-appropriate formulations of many medicines for children poses a major challenge to pediatric therapeutic practice, adherence, and health care delivery worldwide. We provide information on current administration practices of pediatric medicines and describe key stakeholder preferences for new formulation characteristics.
Patients and Methods
We surveyed children aged 6–12 years, parents/caregivers over age 18 with children under age 12, and healthcare workers in 10 regions of Tanzania to determine current pediatric medicine prescription and administration practices as well as preferences for new formulations. Analyses were stratified by setting, pediatric age group, parent/caregiver education, and healthcare worker cadre.
Complete data were available for 206 children, 202 parents/caregivers, and 202 healthcare workers. Swallowing oral solid dosage forms whole or crushing/dissolving them and mixing with water were the two most frequently reported methods of administration. Children frequently reported disliking medication taste, and many had vomited doses. Healthcare workers reported medicine availability most significantly influences prescribing practices. Most parents/caregivers and children prefer sweet-tasting medicine. Parents/caregivers and healthcare workers prefer oral liquid dosage forms for young children, and had similar thresholds for the maximum number of oral solid dosage forms children at different ages can take.
There are many impediments to acceptable and accurate administration of medicines to children. Current practices are associated with poor tolerability and the potential for under- or over-dosing. Children, parents/caregivers, and healthcare workers in Tanzania have clear preferences for tastes and formulations, which should inform the development, manufacturing, and marketing of pediatric medications for resource-limited settings.
Atropine has is currently recommended to facilitate haemodynamic stability during critical care intubation. Our objective was to determine whether atropine use at induction influences ICU mortality.
A 2-year prospective, observational study of all first non-planned intubations, September 2007–9 in PICU and Intensive Care Transport team of Hôpital Robert Debré, Paris, 4 other PICUs and 5 NICUs in the Paris Region, France. Follow-up was from intubation to ICU discharge. A propensity score was used to adjust for patient specific characteristics influencing atropine prescription. 264/333 (79%) intubations were included. The unadjusted ICU mortality was 7.2% (9/124) for those who received atropine compared to 15.7% (22/140) for those who did not (OR 0.42, 95%CI 0.19–0.95, p = 0.04). One child died during intubation (1/264, 0.4%). Two age sub-groups of neonates (≤28 days) and older children (>28 days, <8 years) were examined. This difference in mortality arose from the higher mortality in children aged over one month when atropine was not used (propensity score adjusted OR 0.22, 95%CI 0.06–0.85, p = 0.028). No effect was seen in neonates (propensity score adjusted OR 1.3, 95%CI 0.31–5.1 p = 0.74). Using the propensity score, atropine maintained the mean heart rate 45.9 bpm above that observed when no atropine was used in neonates (95%CI 34.3–57.5, p<0.001) and 43.5 bpm for older children (95%CI 25.5–61.5 bpm, p<0.001).
Atropine use during induction was associated with a reduction in ICU mortality in children over one month. This effect is independent of atropine’s capacity to attenuate bradycardia during intubation which occurred similarly in neonates and older children. This result needs to be confirmed in a study using randomised methodology.
To document and explore the views and experiences of key stakeholders regarding the consent procedures of an emergency research clinical trial examining immediate fluid resuscitation strategies, and to discuss the implications for similar trials in future.
A social science sub-study of the FEAST (Fluid Expansion As Supportive Therapy) trial. Interviews were held with trial team members (n = 30), health workers (n = 15) and parents (n = 51) from two purposively selected hospitals in Soroti, Uganda, and Kilifi, Kenya.
Overall, deferred consent with prior assent was seen by staff and parents as having the potential to protect the interests of both patients and researchers, and to avoid delays in starting treatment. An important challenge is that the validity of verbal assent is undermined when inadequate initial information is poorly understood. This concern needs to be balanced against the possibility that full prior consent on admission potentially causes harm through introducing delays. Full prior consent also potentially imposes worries on parents that clinicians are uncertain about how to proceed and that clinicians want to absolve themselves of any responsibility for the child’s outcome (some parents’ interpretation of the need for signed consent). Voluntariness is clearly compromised for both verbal assent and full prior consent in a context of such vulnerability and stress. Further challenges in obtaining verbal assent were: what to do in the absence of the household decision-maker (often the father); and how medical staff handle parents not giving a clear agreement or refusal.
While the challenges identified are faced in all research in low-income settings, they are magnified for emergency trials by the urgency of decision making and treatment needs. Consent options will need to be tailored to particular studies and settings, and might best be informed by consultation with staff members and community representatives using a deliberative approach.
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
To obtain reliable information about the incidence of adverse drug reactions, and identify potential areas where intervention may reduce the burden of ill-health.
Prospective observational study.
A large tertiary children’s hospital providing general and specialty care in the UK.
All acute paediatric admissions over a one year period.
Any medication taken in the two weeks prior to admission.
Occurrence of adverse drug reaction.
240/8345 admissions in 178/6821 patients admitted acutely to a paediatric hospital were thought to be related to an adverse drug reaction, giving an estimated incidence of 2.9% (95% CI 2.5, 3.3), with the reaction directly causing, or contributing to the cause, of admission in 97.1% of cases. No deaths were attributable to an adverse drug reaction. 22.1% (95% CI 17%, 28%) of the reactions were either definitely or possibly avoidable. Prescriptions originating in the community accounted for 44/249 (17.7%) of adverse drug reactions, the remainder originating from hospital. 120/249 (48.2%) reactions resulted from treatment for malignancies. The drugs most commonly implicated in causing admissions were cytotoxic agents, corticosteroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, vaccines and immunosuppressants. The most common reactions were neutropenia, immunosuppression and thrombocytopenia.
Adverse drug reactions in children are an important public health problem. Most of those serious enough to require hospital admission are due to hospital-based prescribing, of which just over a fifth may be avoidable. Strategies to reduce the burden of ill-health from adverse drug reactions causing admission are needed.
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
Enrolling children into several trials could increase recruitment and lead to quicker delivery of optimal care in paediatric intensive care units (PICU). We evaluated decisions taken by clinicians and parents in PICU on co-enrolment for two large pragmatic trials: the CATCH trial (CATheters in CHildren) comparing impregnated with standard central venous catheters (CVCs) for reducing bloodstream infection in PICU and the CHIP trial comparing tight versus standard control of hyperglycaemia.
We recorded the period of trial overlap for all PICUs taking part in both CATCH and CHiP and reasons why clinicians decided to co-enrol children or not into both studies. We examined parental decisions on co-enrolment by measuring recruitment rates and reasons for declining consent.
Five PICUs recruited for CATCH and CHiP during the same period (an additional four opened CATCH after having closed CHiP). Of these five, three declined co-enrolment (one of which delayed recruiting elective patients for CATCH whilst CHiP was running), due to concerns about jeopardising CHiP recruitment, asking too much of parents, overwhelming amounts of information to explain to parents for two trials and a policy against co-enrolment.
Two units co-enrolled in order to maximise recruitment to both trials. At the first unit, 35 parents were approached for both trials. 17/35 consented to both; 13/35 consented to one trial only; 5/35 declined both. Consent rates during co-enrolment were 29/35 (82%) and 18/35 (51%) for CATCH and CHiP respectively compared with 78% and 51% respectively for those approached for a single trial within this PICU. The second unit did not record data on approaches or refusals, but successfully co-enrolled one child.
Co-enrolment did not appear to jeopardise recruitment or overwhelm parents. Strategies for seeking consent for multiple trials need to be developed and should include how to combine information for parents and patients.
Misclassification of adverse events in clinical trials can sometimes have serious consequences. Therefore, each of the many steps involved, from a patient's adverse experience to presentation in tables in publications, should be as standardised as possible, minimising the scope for interpretation. Adverse events are categorised by a predefined dictionary, e.g. MedDRA, which is updated biannually with many new categories. The objective of this paper is to study interobserver variation and other challenges of coding.
Systematic review using PRISMA. We searched PubMed, EMBASE and The Cochrane Library. All studies were screened for eligibility by two authors.
Our search returned 520 unique studies of which 12 were included. Only one study investigated interobserver variation. It reported that 12% of the codes were evaluated differently by two coders. Independent physicians found that 8% of all the codes deviated from the original description. Other studies found that product summaries could be greatly affected by the choice of dictionary. With the introduction of MedDRA, it seems to have become harder to identify adverse events statistically because each code is divided in subgroups. To account for this, lumping techniques have been developed but are rarely used, and guidance on when to use them is vague. An additional challenge is that adverse events are censored if they already occurred in the run-in period of a trial. As there are more than 26 ways of determining whether an event has already occurred, this can lead to bias, particularly because data analysis is rarely performed blindly.
There is a lack of evidence that coding of adverse events is a reliable, unbiased and reproducible process. The increase in categories has made detecting adverse events harder, potentially compromising safety. It is crucial that readers of medical publications are aware of these challenges. Comprehensive interobserver studies are needed.
In April 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a list of “priority medicines” for maternal and child health based on 1) the global burden of disease and 2) evidence of efficacy and safety. The objective of this study was to examine the occurrence of these priority medicines on national essential medicines lists.
Methods and Findings
All essential medicines lists published since 1999 were selected from the WHO website collection. The most-up-to date list for each country was then selected, resulting in 89 unique country lists. Each list was evaluated for inclusion of medicines (chemical entity, concentration, and dosage form) on the Priority Medicines List. There was global variation in the listing of the Priority Medicines. The most frequently listed medicine was paracetamol, on 94% (84/89) of lists. Sodium chloride, gentamicin and oral rehydration solution were on 93% (83/89) of lists. The least frequently listed medicine was the children's antimalarial rectal artesunate, on 8% of lists (7/89); artesunate injection was on 16% (14/89) of lists. Pediatric artemisinin combination therapy, as dispersible tablets or flexible oral solid dosage form, appeared on 36% (32/89) of lists. Procaine benzylpenicillin, for treatment of pediatric pneumonia and neonatal sepsis, was on 50% (45/89) of the lists. Zinc, for treatment of diarrhoea in children, was included on only 15% (13/89) of lists. For prevention and treatment of postpartum hemorrhage in women, oxytocin was more prevalent on the lists than misoprostol; they were included on 55 (62%) and 31 (35%) of lists, respectively. Cefixime, for treatment of uncomplicated anogenital gonococcal infection in woman was on 26% (23/89) of lists. Magnesium sulfate injection for treatment of severe pre-eclampsia and eclampsia was on 50% (45/89) of the lists.
The findings suggest that countries need to urgently amend their lists to provide all priority medicines as part of the efforts to improve maternal and child health.
We compared the patterns of medically attended injuries between children with and without disabilities and explored the residential environment risks in five counties of Hubei Province in the People's Republic of China by a 1∶1 matched case-control study based on the biopsychosocial model of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health – ICF.
1201 children aged 1–14 with disabilities and 1201 their healthy counterparts matched as having the same gender, same age, and lived in the same neighborhood were recruited in our study. Characteristics of injuries in the past 12 months were compared between children with and without disabilities. The associations among disability status, home environment factors and injuries were examined in logistic regression analysis taking into account sociodemographic factors.
Children with disabilities had a significantly higher prevalence of injury than children without disabilities (10.2% vs. 4.4%; P<.001). The two groups differed significantly in terms of number of injury episodes, injury place and activity at time of injury. Falls were the leading mechanism of injury regardless of disability status. Most of the injury events happened inside the home and leisure activities were the most reported activity when injured for both groups. The univariate OR for injury was 4.46 (2.57–7.74) for the disabled children compared with the non-disabled children. Disabled children whose family raised cat/dog(s) were 76% more likely to be injured during the last 12 months (OR = 1.76; 95% CI = 1.02, 3.02),comparing with those whose family did not have any cat/dog. And for children without disabilities, those whose family had cat/dog(s) were over 3 times more likely to having injuries comparing with those whose family did not have any cat/dog.
Children with disabilities had a significantly increased risk for injury. Interventions to prevent residential injury are an important public health priority in children with disabilities.
To investigate parents’ views about deferred consent to inform management of trial disclosure after a child’s death.
A postal questionnaire survey was sent to members of the Meningitis Research Foundation UK charity, whose child had suffered from bacterial meningitis or meningococcal septicaemia within the previous 5 years. Main outcome measures were acceptability of deferred consent; timing of requesting consent; and the management of disclosure of the trial after a child’s death.
220 families were sent questionnaires of whom 63 (29%) were bereaved. 68 families responded (31%), of whom 19 (28%) were bereaved. The majority (67%) was willing for their child to be involved in the trial without the trial being explained to them beforehand; 70% wanted to be informed about the trial as soon as their child’s condition had stabilised. In the event of a child’s death before the trial could be discussed the majority of bereaved parents (66% 12/18) anticipated wanting to be told about the trial at some time. This compared with 37% (18/49) of non-bereaved families (p = 0.06). Parents’ free text responses indicated that the word ‘trial’ held strongly negative connotations. A few parents regarded gaps in the evidence base about emergency treatments as indicating staff lacked expertise to care for a critically ill child. Bereaved parents’ free text responses indicated the importance of individualised management of disclosure about a trial following a child’s death.
Deferred consent is acceptable to the majority of respondents. Parents whose children had recovered differed in their views compared to bereaved parents. Most bereaved parents would want to be informed about the trial in the aftermath of a child’s death, although a minority strongly opposed such disclosure. Distinction should be drawn between the views of bereaved and non-bereaved parents when considering the acceptability of different consent processes.
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.