"In fact, scientific support was lacking for 96% of the psychiatric drugs prescribed off-label."
From the Los Angeles Times
When there's little proof a prescription drug will work
'Off-label' medicines are becoming more popular even though they often lack scientific support, a new study shows.By Shari Roan
Times Staff Writer
May 15, 2006
Millions of Americans each year are prescribed drugs that are not approved for their specific medical condition, a practice that is legal and logical in many cases. But a new study has found that fully 20% of all prescriptions are written for such nonapproved uses and that most of these — three-quarters — are not well-supported by scientific studies.
This widespread use of medications "off-label" could threaten patients' safety while escaping the attention of federal regulators, some experts suggest.
"What surprised me about this study is that in many cases there is a paucity of scientific studies supporting the drug's use off-label," says Kenneth I. Kaitin, director of the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development. "It's an issue that should be discussed in the medical community." Still, Kaitin says, it's unclear whether consumers are being put at undue risk. "There has not been a significant problem with off-label prescribing that I'm aware of," he says.