Introduction: Regulatory initiatives have stimulated drug research in infants, but the potential impact of drugs to improve health outcome in neonates remains underexplored. Areas covered: In this review, we focus on current limitations in drug evaluation studies and how to overcome these. The low volume of studies has additional weaknesses such as single center studies, non-commercial sponsorship, overrepresentation of high postulated risk reductions, and underrepresentation of therapeutic exploratory studies. Master protocols and selection criteria for neonatal centers to participate in studies are useful to improve logistics related to performance. Limitations also relate to inaccurate assessment of drug effects (efficacy/safety). This is because of poor symptom recognition, case definitions, and suboptimal data on adverse drug reactions (ADRs) epidemiology. To overcome these limitations, it is necessary to develop core outcome sets, reference values, and specific ADR tools. The limitations identified and approaches suggested to improve drug evaluation are illustrated using neonatal abstinence syndrome as an example. Expert commentary: We anticipate to see an evolving neonatal clinical pharmacology discipline driven by neonatal pathophysiology and knowledge. Multidisciplinary collaborative efforts between health care providers, academia, pharmaceutical industry, advocacy groups and regulatory agencies are crucial to improve the impact of drug evaluation studies in neonates.

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Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology

Allegaert, K., Smits, A., & van den Anker, J. (2018). Drug evaluation studies in neonates: how to overcome the current limitations. Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology (Vol. 11, pp. 387–396). doi:10.1080/17512433.2018.1439378