WHO Publishes Global Prescribing Guidelines for Children's Medications

The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed the first universal guide to the use of more than 240 prescription and OTC medicines for the treatment of disease in children 12 years old and younger. Until now, no resource has provided a set of standardized recommendations for prescribing children's medicines on a global scale.

The 528-page document provides information about which medicines should be used to treat which conditions, administration and dosing guidelines, adverse effects, drug interactions, and contraindications. It was created in response to an international need to increase the availability and efficacy of drugs especially formulated for children.

"To be effective, medicines must be carefully chosen and the dose adjusted to suit the age, weight, and needs of children," said Hans Hogerzeil, MD, PhD, WHO's director of essential medicines and pharmaceutical policies, in a news release. "Without a global guide, many health-care professionals have had to prescribe medicines based on very limited evidence."

In developing the formulary, WHO also identified conditions and treatments for which children's formulations are under-developed. Drugs for HIV and malaria, for example, have very few fixed-dose combinations that are appropriate for use in children. WHO said more research was needed to develop child-appropriate antibiotics and medicines for neonatal care as well.

The complete resource is available through the WHO Web site. For a guide to pharmacist-recommended OTC products for children, visit the Pediatrics section of the newly updated OTCguide.net.