TUESDAY, July 29, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- The Food and Drug Administration has OK'd the use of growth hormone injections on children who are healthy but abnormally short and who hope to gain 1 to 3 inches of height.
The drug, called Humatrope, is only for the shortest 1.2 percent of children, which manufacturer Eli Lilly says includes 400,000 such children between the ages 7 to 15. The drug maker, however, predicts that only about 10 percent ultimately would receive growth hormone because of tight eligibility restrictions, and because many families won't want to endure up to six shots a week for years.
Growth hormone has been used for 16 years to treat children who are extremely short because their bodies don't naturally produce the substance or because of a few other growth-stunting diseases. Some 200,000 children worldwide have taken it; the cost range is between $10,000 and $25,000 a year for the drug.
The FDA has long struggled to define just what constituted medically appropriate use of the drug without opening floodgates to children of normal height.