Tuesday, 15 January 2013

China lacks child-specific formulations of medicines

Only 1.5% of commonly used medications have children's formulations or doses
by Zhou Ping
Wu Xiaoman is the mother of a 17-month-old boy and she is unhappy. She is unhappy with the fact that her son has been unwell. But more unhappy that the drugs prescribed to help ease the boy's persistent and aggravating cough were intended for an adult.
"I took my son to the Children's Hospital of Shanghai and we were given a medicine called Clarityne. Although the doctor asked me to give my son half a pill at a time, I was very uncomfortable when I read the medicine's literature at home which stated that the medicine was intended for adults and children above the age of 2 years," Wu told the Global Times. "I didn't follow the doctor's instructions but I cut the pill into four pieces, crushed one piece and mixed it with water before giving it to my son. I wanted to reduce any potential side effects because this medicine is not designed for babies."
She is not the only parent who is troubled at the lack of suitable children's medicines on the market in the country. Recently the China Youth Daily reported that the father of a 5-month-old child suffering from kidney disease has to cut a pill into small sections, crush the sections and then dissolve them in water before he can give the medicine to his child every day.
John Elliot, a pediatrician at the Shanghai United Family Hospital, worked as a pediatrician for 15 years in the US before he moved to Shanghai. He said he found that common medicines, like some antibiotics and asthma medications, were not available in China in liquid forms, and some more specialized medicines were difficult to obtain.
"Sometimes when we don't have the medicine required in a liquid form, we have to get our pharmacist to crush the pills and add them to water to make a solution so that children can take the medicine safely. In the US, a lot of these medicines are already available in liquid forms."
Elliot said that in China some other medicines, like anticonvulsants, were not available with the range of options they were offered in Western countries. Ji Lianmei, a pharmacist with the United Family Healthcare's Beijing branch, said that domestic medicines often lacked child suitable versions and adequate advice on dosage.
Statistics from the Pharmaceutical Chamber of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce suggest that of the 3,500-plus medicines available, specific children's medicines account for only 1.52 percent.
Read the full article: Global Times

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