EU experts call for clinical trials to focus on the elderly

Whether targeting hypertension, high cholesterol or Alzheimer's, many in-development drugs are aimed at elderly populations, but aging patients are too often left out of clinical trials for treatments designed to help them, European experts say.

Researchers are often loath to recruit elderly patients, citing mobility issues, compliance problems and the fact that many of them take cocktails of drugs to deal with various ailments, doctors at the annual congress of the German Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics said, according to Outsourcing-Pharma.

But that's no excuse, Sven Stegemann, a speaker at the conference, told the website. The current lack of geriatric patients in clinical trials makes it difficult for physicians to prescribe drugs as recommended. Younger patients metabolize and respond to drugs differently than their older counterparts, he said, and uneven trial data means risky guesswork for doctors.

Things may be changing soon, however, at least in the EU. The European Medicines Agency's recently released "Road map to 2015" includes a focus on involving more geriatric patients in drug trials, and geriatrician Dr. Manfred Gogol, a speaker at the conference, told Outsourcing-Pharma that the organization's acknowledgement is a step in the right direction. "They will not pass drugs which are not tested in geriatric patients," he said.

- read the Outsourcing-Pharma story

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