In DepthDRUG DEVELOPMENT

Children with cancer get more access to experimental drugs

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Science  11 Aug 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6351, pp. 540
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6351.540

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Summary

Cancer kills more U.S. children than any other single disease, but it’s still relatively rare in kids—one reason why drug companies lean toward testing new anticancer compounds in adults. Better access to experimental cancer drugs could be around the corner. On 3 August, the U.S. Senate passed the Research to Accelerate Cures and Equity for Children Act, which closes loopholes in U.S. drug approval guidelines that companies have exploited to avoid enrolling children in clinical cancer research. Those firms often fear the risk and financial burden that comes with testing new and potentially dangerous compounds in children with cancer, but the scientific rationale for moving ahead with such trials “has never been greater,” says one pediatric cancer researcher.

  • * Charles Schmidt is a journalist in Portland, Maine.