Worldwide the prevalence of essential hypertension in children and adolescents continues to increase. Traditionally providers have used "off-label" drugs to treat pediatric hypertension, meaning that rigorous clinical trials of these drugs have not been specifically performed in pediatric patient populations. Consequently providers have extrapolated dosing, safety and efficacy from trials in adults. This practice is sub-optimal as children demonstrate unique differences in drug metabolism and response. Use of unstudied or understudied drugs increases risk of adverse events and/or can lead to sub-optimal efficacy. Recognizing these concerns, regulatory agencies have created financial incentives for industry to conduct pediatric clinical trials. These incentives, coupled with the emerging pediatric hypertension epidemic, have spurred over 30 clinical trials of anti-hypertensive drugs over the past 15 years and have resulted in labeling of 10 new drugs by the United States Food and Drug Administration for treatment of hypertension in children and adolescents. Unfortunately the financial incentive structures focus on newer drugs and drug classes. Consequently there is now a relative dearth of trial data for older but sometimes commonly prescribed pediatric antihypertensive drugs. This article reviews recent pediatric antihypertensive drug trials with a focus on trial design and endpoints, drug dosing, safety, efficacy and specific drug indications. We also review the available data and experience for some of the more commonly prescribed, but less well studied "older" pediatric antihypertensive drugs.
Keywords: Children; Clinical trials; Dosing; Hypertension; Safety.