Approximately 1 in 100 hospital patients suffer adverse side-effects from preventable pharmaceutical errors costing inpatients $2 billion annually. Furthermore, 2 to 4 million people a year suffer from some sort of medicine-caused injury. More troubling though, is the risk of children experiencing drug-related side effects. Children are more susceptible to these sort of negative responses than adults and many have been working to address the problem.
When pharmaceutical companies produce drugs, commonly medication is not tested properly for children. Therefore; the dosage and effects on their less-developed bodies is uncertain. In fact, an estimated 70,000 children suffer from adverse reactions to medication in U.S. annually. Also, children and infants are more likely than adults to have negative reactions to medications because their ability to metabolize is not fully developed yet. And finally; if there is a physically adverse-reaction to medication, kids usually are incapable of properly evaluating the issue. All these things are causing many to feel that more needs be done to make treatments for children, babies and adolescents less risky.
In an effort to reduce medication-risk in children, the Bostons Children’s Hospital is teaming with the Medical College of Wisconsin to start providing individualized treatments based on gathered genetic information. The main goal of the project is to be able to determine and predict how a person will react to specific treatments based on their specific biological makeup and ability to metabolize drugs. This would mean that the likelihood of receiving drugs that would cause a negative reaction would be decreased and proper dosage sizes would be administrated based off patterns of genetic traits.
The research, known as InformED Kids, has been offered at Boston Children’s Hospital since 2012 and has already over 220 participating so far. Young patients that require multiple prescriptions such as those in the epilepsy department are among the ones enrolled in the program currently. Ultimately, they hope to have 1,000 participants in the study. The data is collected from blood samples taken from Boston Children’s Hospital which is sent to Medical College of Wisconsin for clinical pharmaceutical tests. At the end of the day, they aim to be able to determine how changes in enzymes play a role in variations in effect of drugs on people. Hopefully, the future will allow for personalized medical treatments to be administered catering to specific variant drug responses.
When data comes back from the testing, it is placed in the patient’s electronic medical record allowing for it to flag down potential harmful drugs. The system is hoping to be able to redirect treatment to another type of medicine and a proper dose tailored to the particular genetic-type of the person. The computer would be able to decide the proper diagnosis based off of their stored database.
Other goals associated with the InformED kids initiative is to provide better service and satisfaction for the patient and their families. It also coincides with the measures to increase quality care as part of the healthcare reform initiatives. Additionally, the study has a goal that health insurance will be able to reimburse the costs of the pharmacogenomic screening.
Whether it be more youth-focused testing on drugs, better regulations on dosage, or even genetic testing to find tailor-made treatments; the future of treatments for doctors will probably include increased safety precautions for children. Hopefully soon maybe more hospitals will begin using this methodology at their practices!