Aggregated News

Editor's note: Harriet A. Washington is a medical ethicist, a former research fellow at Harvard Medical School and the author of two books, Medical Apartheid and Deadly Monopolies

(CNN) -- What if most of the drugs your doctor gave you were untested, forcing him or her to guess at the correct medication and dosage -- making you an unwitting research subject whenever you took a pill?

Dr. Florence Bourgeois and her colleagues at Harvard University have just reminded us that today, this very situation confronts the world's children.

Four of every five kids hospitalized in the United States are treated with drugs that have never been tested in them, according to Bourgeois' report in this week's Pediatrics journal. They are approved by the Food and Drug Administration only for adults. And outside the hospital, one-third of all children take such medications.
Doctors can legally use such drugs, but determining a safe, effective dose -- if there is one -- can be a matter of guesswork, because little ones can metabolize drugs very differently than adults.

For instance, the...