AstraZeneca recently received FDA approval for the use of Nexium in children down to 12 months of age. We’re used to hearing about reflux in adults. What does this new approval mean for parents and kids?
Reflux is getting its due. While it’s hard to believe, there are holdouts who refuse to believe that reflux is an issue in children. Nexium’s approval is a boon for reflux awareness.
More options for treatment. While Prevacid has been approved for young children for some time, Nexium gives us another option. This is a good thing. As I suggest in my book Colic Solved, PPI medications are like shoes, no two 8 ½’s (my size) feel the same. While a child may do well with one, another may not work quite as well. It’s hard to explain why this is the case but its something pediatric refluxologists like myself notice.
Expect to see direct-to-parent advertising. In a saturated adult acid suppression market, look for pharma to pay attention to the final reflux frontier: children. I’m not being critical. For years pediatricians have been the redheaded stepchildren of the medical world, forced to take the runoff of adult mediations for pediatric use. This approval will have the often overlooked upside of raising parental awareness.
Expect to see overuse. Nexium’s approval in kids could have the often overlooked downside of abuse. While reflux is underestimated in the pediatric age group, the new new thing always has the potential for overuse. Educate yourself on acid reflux disease in children before committing your child to long-term use.
Look for price competition. Competition in the pediatric market means competitive pricing for parents and third party payers. And when Protonix finally makes it into childhood, this effect will only be amplified.
Don’t expect talk of the “Purple Pill.” It’s dispensed as a white powder packet that’s suspended in a small amount of water. “The Little White Packet” somehow doesn’t have the same cachet. And while I believe Nexium is a good acid suppressant, when it comes to kids the form of delivery is king. Nexium’s powder will have a hard time keeping up with Prevacid’s ever-popular strawberry-flavored melt away solutab. Kids love ‘em.
Approval for babies isn’t far behind. As the market for PPI’s continues to grow into the younger set, expect FDA approval of PPI for infants. I’d give it 2-3 years.
Stay tuned to Parenting Solved for more on Nexium’s effect on reflux awareness and the pediatric heartburn market.