Is the pharmaceutical industry interested in investing in R&D on drugs for neonatal babies?
Not at all. The pharmaceutical industry has never bothered to do the studies in children simply because it is not economically profitable for them. One, physicians are not using these medicines very much. And two, the neonatal population is less than 1.4 per cent of the drug sales. The doses you need for a 500 gm baby are much smaller than a 100 kg adult, so it is not worth their while. Under the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act, the US Congress charged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to get the best safety and efficacy data that should be used and are being used in newborns and older children. The FDA and the National Institutes of Health have established five different task forces to examine the matter. I chair the Neonatal Pain Control Group, and have published five papers detailing what research needs to occur over the next ten years and how this whole field can move forward.
Do you expect India to play a role in the path-breaking global research being in the field of foetal and neonatal pain?
India has a 20 per cent paediatric population but there is not one paediatric pain service in the country. There is so much medical care being provided in India, but there is nothing that will treat the pain of neonatal babies.
With technical advances, economic progress and improvement in infrastructure and things like that, the time has come for India to invest in its future. Already it has occurred in the form of education, but it also needs to occur in the form of healthcare for children. We really need much better facilities for taking care of our babies.