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£1.4 million for research into safe and effective medicines for children

Press release issued: 11 December 2006

A South West-based research team has secured funding of £1.4 million to help develop medicines specifically for use in children.

A South West-based research team has secured funding of £1.4m to help develop medicines specifically for use in children.

Many of the medicines used to treat children have been designed for adults and have not been properly tested on the young. Some medicines are only available in tablet form, which some children find difficult to swallow. Health professionals use their skill and judgement when prescribing medicines for children but need better information from studies conducted with children to inform these decisions.

The new team is one of six across the country forming the Medicines for Children Research Network (MCRN) set up to address these issues by supporting and undertaking important clinical studies into the safety and effectiveness of medicines for children. The Department of Health has provided £20 million in funding, with £1.4 million coming to the south west network.

Working closely with other new NHS research networks, including primary care, and involving parents and children at every stage of the process, the south west network will help maintain the region as a major participant in efforts to improve children’s health and wellbeing through research.

Based at the United Bristol Healthcare NHS Trust and Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, the regional network will be directed by Professor Adam Finn and Dr Andrew Collinson and includes eight research nurses, a network manager, Dr Ruth Allen, and two administrators.

The funding bid was led by Professor Finn of the University of Bristol and Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, on behalf of the universities and NHS Trusts in the South West region.

A national training programme, supported locally by Dr Margaret Fletcher of the University of the West of England, will ensure that the network can deliver high quality clinical research and act as an expert resource for all other paediatrics researchers in the region.

The research network aims to provide a world-class infrastructure to support research into medicines for children, improving the care offered to children today and the prospect of new and better treatments in the future. The network will enable patients and parents to feel confident about the effectiveness of existing medicines and help to develop new drugs for children and babies.

The network had its official launch at the University of Liverpool on Thursday 7 December 2006, with representation from our network in the South West.

Adam Finn, David Baum Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Bristol and Director of the South West local research network, said, "This is a fantastic opportunity for Health Services and universities to team up with families in the South West and make a real difference to children's health in the future."

Andy Burnham, Minister of Delivery and Quality for the Department of Heath, who will formally launch the project tomorrow, said: "The Government is committed to making the UK the best place in the world for medical research and will invest over £750 million this year.

"Establishing the Medicines for Children Research Network will ensure that children benefit directly from the latest medical advances and treatments designed, developed and licensed specifically for their use."



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