A bill designed to improve treatment opportunities for pediatric cancer patients in the US has passed unanimously through the House of Representatives. The Research to Accelerate Cures and Equity (RACE) for Children Act, which was passed as part of the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017, aims to promote research into, and development of, new treatments for children with cancer.

More children in the US are lost to cancer than any other disease, and as many as 15,000 children a year are diagnosed with some form of cancer. However, current research and development in the oncology space is more heavily focused on cancer in the adult population. According to the Senators behind this bill, the medical advances in adult cancer treatments are years ahead of those for pediatric treatments. In fact, there are around 900 drugs currently in the pipeline for adult patients, but there are only a handful for children.

The RACE for Children Act was designed to change this scenario. The bill would make changes to the Pediatric Research Equity Act (PREA), which was enacted back in 2003. PREA was developed to address the relative scarcity of information on how to safely and effectively treat pediatric patients with the drugs developed for adults. However, at the time of enactment, cancer drugs were excluded from the provisions of this Act. The RACE for Children Act would, therefore, update this Act to include cancer drugs.

What this mean is that, not only will companies developing drugs for adult patients have to include children in their clinical trials – if and where appropriate, but industry funding will also be provided to allow drug manufacturers to develop treatments that are specifically tailored to children.

The RACE for Children Act has support from numerous oncology support groups, including the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Alliance for Childhood Cancer, Kids v. Cancer, and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, to name but a few.

After such a positive response from the House, it is hoped that this bill will also pass quickly through the Senate. If passed, The RACE for Children Act will provide hope for the millions of children in the US who are currently waiting to benefit from new, lifesaving treatments.