Unsanctioned drug prescriptions may put patients at risk

On Behalf of | May 2, 2016 | Medication Errors

According to some studies, around 20 percent of all prescriptions written by U.S. doctors are for drugs that aren’t designed for the problems being treated. These off-label drug usages could impact numerous patients in New Mexico and around the country. Experts suggest the situation isn’t likely to change soon and that patients need to use independent resources, like FDA label search tools, to learn more about what they’re taking and why.

Off-label drug use occurs for many reasons. With diseases like polycystic ovary syndrome, the number one cause of infertility in females, doctors have no FDA-vetted pharmaceutical treatment option, so they must rely on diabetes drugs and birth control pills. Antipsychotic drugs approved for treating Alzheimer’s patients fail to alleviate behavioral issues in sufferers with dementia, and many have serious side effects, so doctors may resort to off-label options out of perceived necessity.

Some off-label drug use occurs because FDA approval doesn’t require that children participate in drug studies, and in 2007, almost 80 percent of minors released from pediatric care facilities were being prescribed off-label drugs. While parents are advised to learn more about what their children take, doctors maintain that other laws exist to help protect kids. In some cases, however, off-label prescriptions are related to insufficient scientific evidence, which can lead to dangerous side effects and negative outcomes.

Regardless whether prescriptions are off-label or FDA-approved, they can result in various problems for patients. In cases where doctors fail to confirm that prescribed medicines are compatible with what people are already taking, patients may suffer life-threatening drug interactions. Many victims of such incidents find it necessary to undergo additional medical treatment or emergency care, and they may pursue legal remedies when seeking compensation for their losses.


FindLaw Network