A dearth of information on the effects of prescription drugs on children is putting millions of kids at risk, the Washington Post reports. Two-thirds of the medications prescribed to kids haven't been tested on them, and those that have been tested often produce unexpected results: A migraine drug that works on adults causes strokes in kids. And asthma inhaler stunts growth. A pain-killer patch can deliver a fatal overdose to a child.
Historically, neither the federal government nor Big Pharma has been willing to fund a comprehensive pediatric research program, and ethical issues have inhibited testing in children. The National Institutes of Health has listed 50 drugs that are the highest priority, and studies have been launched into 14 of them, including Ritalin, lithium and morphine. But the studies are still in early stages. "Children are different," said one pharmacologist. "They are not just small adults."