Pediatricians are aware of the "off-label medication problem", in that 70% of the drugs prescribed for children have not been tested for this age group. However, supported by European legislation and the amended German Drug Lax, these tests will be essential in the future (see MoKi 2004, 152: 321-325). Therefore, further clinical studies will certainly be necessary.
Children who have to be vaccinated and those with allergies, pneumological disorders, ADHD, obesity and infections are mostly found by pediatricians in private practices, rather than in hospitals.
However, physicians often lack the background education needed in order to participate in "Good Clinical Practice (GCP)" studies.
This situation, and other common experiences reported by many pediatricians inside a multi-center study on sublingual immunotherapy (Allergy 2004; 59: 498-504), lead to the 2001 foundation of the Association "Netzwerk der Kinder- u. Jugendärzte für klinische Studien in der Allergologie und Pneumologie" - in short, NETSTAP.
As part of networking, the non-profit association NETSTAP has developed its own intranet in collaboration with the Kinderumwelt gGmbH (DISA / DISU). This intranet is used as an electronic resource and communication forum for NETSTAP members.
NETSTAP provides 2-3 courses per year to train investigators and study nurses in line with GCP guidelines.
An important concern for NETSTAP is that its members can have an influence on the study contents. This is to ensure that only studies are realized that are really important and essential for pediatricians and their patients.
A 2008 change of the constitution, initiated by NETSTAP members, has enabled the initation of pediatric practice-relevant studies for a much wider circle than previously available. Since then, the association is named Netwerk Kinder- u. Jugendärzte für klinische Studien in Ambulanten Pädiatrie; the acronym NETSTAP remains.