In the cardiovascular segment, the prevalence and rate of diagnosis of hypertension in children and adolescents is increasing, due in part to the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity, as well as growing awareness of the disease. Obesity in children, among other factors, contributes to childhood hypertension, which research is now showing can lead to adult hypertension. Products that have documented safety and effectiveness in children include diuretics and beta blockers.
Preferential use of specific classes of medications for certain underlying or coexisting pathology has led to the prescribing of ACE inhibitors in children with diabetes or proteinuria and beta-adrenergic or calcium channel blockers for children with migraines. Many medications have growing research to support their use. There are currently more than 15 medications in later development for pediatric hypertension, cholesterolemia, and other cardiovascular issues.
The recognition of chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, certain behavioral health conditions, and the epidemic of obesity in the pediatric population is pushing those segments ahead at a brisk rate. Revenues for hormone drugs including diabetic medication and growth factors for the pediatric population, for example, have displayed 10% annual growth over the past few years; other drugs such as dermatologic products have also shown 8% to 9% annual growth.
While the focus of most healthcare watchers has been on the world’s aging population, one must not forget that children number nearly 2.5 billion, or 40% of people on the planet. The demographics, large unmet need, regulatory incentives, and opportunity for product portfolio extension are making developers wake up and take a second look at this market.