The report, "Making Better Drugs for Children with Cancer," analyzes childhood cancer treatment in the light of historic advances. "Over the past 40 years, researchers and clinicians have achieved long-term survival for most children and adolescents with cancer," said pediatric oncologist Peter C. Adamson, M.D., chief of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and an editor of the report. "However, our therapies are not curative for 30 percent of children, and for children who are cured, the short-term and long-term side effects of current treatments are often too high."
Dr. Adamson is a member of the IOM's Committee on Shortening the Time Line for New Cancer Treatments, which issued the report on April 18. As Chair of the Developmental Therapeutics program of the Children's Oncology Group, a nationwide consortium of pediatric oncology centers, Dr. Adamson took a leadership role in drafting the report. The Institute of Medicine is part of the National Academy of Sciences, a private, nonprofit organization of scholars chartered by the U.S. Congress.
The absolute number of U.S. children with cancer is relatively small (about 12,000 cases diagnosed annually, compared to 200,000 new cases of breast cancer alone), and pharmaceutical companies do not consider it profitable to invest in research and development for pediatric cancer drugs. Oncologists have used many existing adult cancer drugs to treat children, but many of those drugs have toxic side effects. On the other hand, say the authors
Contact: John Ascenzi
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia