Friday, June 02, 2017
Billy Long: Bill will close treatment gap for newborns
Each year, 200,000 newborns in the United States are admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit, but the treatments available to these babies are limited. While the number of newborns needing intensive care has increased, treatment options have stagnated, leaving us with a worrisome treatment gap that continues to grow. Currently, more than 90 percent of the medications used on infants are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is unacceptable. This is why I recently introduced the Promoting Life-Saving New Therapies for Neonates Act, H.R. 2641.
For far too long newborns have lacked the quality care that is crucial to their health. With prematurity being the number one cause of newborn mortality, something needs to be done. This bill will close the treatment gap for newborns by incentivizing research for effective drugs and ensuring that these new drugs target the most critical needs of neonates. Parents have enough to worry about after having a child. They should not also have to worry about their child getting the care they need and deserve.
With so little research being done to help improve neonatal care, doctors sometimes use drugs that are intended for adults. They will adjust the dosages, but adjusting the dosages doesn’t help in some cases and can sometimes make things worse. Infants respond differently than adults to these drugs, and treating them as “tiny adults,” as one doctor put it, can be harmful.
Current incentives to help close the treatment gap have not worked as planned, which is why this bill is important. Due to the numerous challenges posed by the age group, many doctors have not wanted to take on the possible risks that come with conducting clinical trials. It’s also more challenging to find patients in this age group that are available for study at any given time compared to other age groups, and the conditions needed to make trials effective are not found in children and adults.
Creating more incentives for research into effective drugs that target the most critical neonatal needs gives children access to reliable health care they need and parents the ease of mind they deserve. I will work hard to make sure that this bill is passed in both the House and the Senate and signed by the president. Now is the time to take action.