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When prescribing medications, caring for children poses a particular challenge. They’re not just little adults. Their still-developing brains and bodies metabolize drugs differently, and what works for grown-ups can yield radically different — and sometimes dangerous — results in kids.

And now, even as high drug prices make headlines, the challenge of getting sick children the kind of medication they can take and tolerate — often by creating liquid formulations of drugs that are already on the market — is seen by some companies as a lucrative opportunity.

It is part of a pattern in which patent laws and government incentives — meant to encourage development of less-profitable drugs — enable some companies to get a leg up in the market and set high prices. The Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act, for instance, allows for delaying the approval of competing generics if companies test their drugs in children. And the Pediatric Research Equity Act requires more companies to have pediatric-focused drugs clinically assessed in kids. These laws have spurred companies to do more in terms of testing and developing pediatric medicines. The companies can market the drugs without facing competition for a longer period of time. And as a result, the treatments cost exponentially more.

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