A More Efficient Path
Pediatric autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are treated by medicines designed and approved for adults. However, autoimmune disease can be very different in kids; a medicine with just modest efficacy in adults might show unexpected results in children. The path for pediatric drug development for RA can be slow, taking five to eight years from FDA approval for adults to its approval for children. As an industry, we need to be more efficient in drug development so we can get more therapies to patients faster. This includes our littlest patients.
The good news is that the industry has begun to address the needs of pediatric patients. In recent years, the FDA began requiring a pediatric plan for all drugs in development, we are seeing a shorter lag time for pediatric medicines, and there are now several products approved by the FDA to treat forms of rheumatic diseases in this population.
Picking Up the Pace
For children with autoimmune diseases, remission is important because it reduces systemic inflammation and joint injury, preserving joint integrity and improving quality of life. That’s why, as an industry, we must continue to move research and development forward at a faster pace.
While we don’t yet fully understand why children get autoimmune diseases, there continues to be new and exciting medical advances that offer better treatment options for these patients. Ideally, we will be able build upon the positive progress already made and look at ways to develop a clear clinical development path forward to test for safety and efficacy in children, while shortening the time to access.