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Policy

All ages should be included in clinical trials, NIH says

by Andrea Widener
February 5, 2018 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 96, ISSUE 6

Children and older adults should be regularly included in clinical trials, NIH announced last month. The policy requires that trials include people from across the human life span unless there are scientific or ethical reasons that isn’t possible. “Our goal is to ensure that the knowledge gained from NIH-funded research is applicable to all those affected,” NIH Deputy Director Michael Lauer said in a blog post about the new policy. Currently, many trials exclude children and older adults. For example, only 10% of cancer trial participants are older than 75, while nearly 33% of people with cancer are in that age range, Lauer’s blog post says. That means treatments might not be available to all patients, or potentially damaging reactions to those treatments might not be identified during the trial. The policy will apply to grant applications filed starting Jan. 25, 2019. It replaces a previous policy that addressed only the inclusion of children in trials. NIH has also issued guidelines to address gender inequality in clinical trials.

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