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Highlights

About two-thirds of drugs that are prescribed for children have not been studied and labeled for pediatric use, which places children at risk of being exposed to ineffective treatment or incorrect dosing. The Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act (BPCA), enacted in 2002, encourages the manufacturers, or sponsors, of drugs that still have marketing exclusivity--that is, are on-patent--to conduct pediatric drug studies, as requested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If they do so, FDA may extend for 6 months the period during which no equivalent generic drugs can be marketed. This is referred to as pediatric exclusivity. BPCA required that GAO assess the effect of BPCA on pediatric drug studies and labeling. As discussed with the committees of jurisdiction, GAO (1) assessed the extent to which pediatric drug studies were being conducted under BPCA for on-patent drugs, including when drug sponsors declined to conduct the studies; (2) evaluated the impact of BPCA on labeling drugs for pediatric use and the process by which the labeling was changed; and (3) illustrated the range of diseases treated by the drugs studied under BPCA. GAO examined data about the drugs for which FDA requested studies under BPCA from 2002 through 2005. GAO also interviewed officials from relevant federal agencies, pharmaceutical industry representatives, and health advocates.

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