A new bill passed in the U.S. Senate last week will provide measures to ensure that drug companies are developing treatments for children with cancer. The RACE for Children Act is part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Reauthorization Act of 2017, which aims to speed up the approval process for new treatments and medical devices and is expected to be signed into law by President Trump.

The goal of the effort is to get novel treatments into the hands of doctors for patients who’ve exhausted many other available options. For the first time ever, the FDA is requiring pharmaceutical companies to develop their drugs with more than just adults in mind. As part of the RACE for Children Act, kids with cancer will have more treatment options available to them. The act also provides pediatric oncologists with new drug-related information about potential treatments for children with cancer, the proper dosing levels, and whether the drugs are safe for younger patients. As standard practice, pharmaceutical companies are now required to develop treatments with children in mind as well as adults.

Currently, more than 900 drugs intended for adults are undergoing some part of the FDA’s approval process. However, far fewer options are being investigated for children with cancer. The RACE for Children Act updates existing research policy and requires a mandatory change to develop cancer drugs for children. The American Cancer Society, American Society of Clinical Oncology, and many other healthcare institutions such as MD Anderson and Memorial Sloan-Kettering have endorsed the bill.

The RACE for Children Act gained overwhelming support from both parties and was central to the FDA’s Reauthorization Act. Childhood cancers affect more than 10,000 children each year. Cancer is the second leading cause of death among children aged 1–14. Through the new legislation, hope could be coming to children experiencing cancer diagnoses.

Oncology nurses are the first lines of education and support for children with cancer and their families. New FDA-approved drugs may be on their way, and nurses will play a central role in treating and advocating for their patients. As new information surfaces and the FDA continues its accelerated approval programs, ONS will support oncology nurses as their practice evolves and changes.

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