I have previously worked at a major pharmaceutical company where I was involved in the development of medicines – I enjoyed this job but I wanted to get a bit closer to the patients. I then worked within the NHS supporting research that other people had planned which was great but I always knew I had my own ideas and I wanted to see if I could make a difference.
My research at the University of Birmingham is about making medicines better for children – this is an exciting area to work in. For years children have been put to the bottom of the pile when developing medicines and this is just not right. There are two main reasons for this:
- (Thankfully) children take fewer medicines compared to adults so there is not the same market, that is drug companies make more money from adults
- It is difficult to test medicines on children as there are greater ethical barriers
So to go back to why there are not already age-appropriate medicines for children:
- It is true that children take fewer medicines than adults and there is not the same financial incentive to develop medicines for children. BUT the laws have now changes and all new drugs in development have to be available in an age-appropriate format, so the future looks bright.
- It is difficult to test on children but not impossible and there are many ways to make this easier. There are lots of groups across the UK who will help to involve children and young people at the start of the project to ensure that materials are developed to encourage participation which can really help.
In my opinion it is obvious why I do research! Children need medicines that are acceptable and appropriate for them. Drug companies need to develop medicines that are appropriate for children.
You can follow Hannah on twitter at @han_batchelor