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Two decades ago, Congress gave drug makers incentives to study their medicines for children, but while this laudable move may have produced benefits for many youngsters, a new study suggests the effort has also come at a price — hundreds of millions of dollars in higher costs for consumers.

At issue is a law that offers drug makers an extra six months of exclusive marketing if clinical studies are run to gauge whether a medicine can also help children. The law was passed because a growing number of drugs that were being given to youngsters had never been tested in that group of patients.

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