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Memphis, Tenn.– Only about 20 of the most commonly prescribed drugs for children have been tested for use in youngsters, a University of Tennessee researcher said Wednesday.

 Dr. Russell Chesney, co-director of the UT-Memphis Center of Excellence in Pediatric Pharmacokinetics and Therapeutics, said he supports President Clinton’s plan to require manufacturers to test and label new drugs for child use.

 “If you look at the 80 most commonly prescribed drugs for children, only about 20 of them have undergone rigorous testing in children,” Chesney said.

 Chesney accepted a White House invitation to attend Clinton’s announcement of the proposed requirements.

 New drugs are thoroughly tested for adults, but seldom for children.

 “You want to test in children because you would like them to be able to benefit from some of the new breakthrough drugs,” Chesney said.

 Tests in children are important because youngsters don’t metabolize drugs the same as adults do, Chesney said. Depending on the drug and the child, a youngster’s body might absorb a drug slower or faster than an adult.

 The proposed regulations would apply to all new medicines that might be used on children, Chesney said.

 The pediatric center at UT-Memphis is part of an eight-university consortium currently testing drugs in children with the cooperation of some of the larger drug companies, Chesney said.

 Contact: Dr. Russell Chesney (901-572-3353)