Many doctors unknowingly prescribe drugs 'off-label,' study finds
A large number of physicians don't know when they are prescribing drugs, including antipsychotics, "off-label," according to a recent report.
"Off-label" refers to the practice of prescribing drugs in ways that are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Often, doctors will prescribe antipsychotics to treat Alzheimer's disease and dementia, even though he drug is intended for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. But researchers in the journal Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety say that nearly 20% of doctors will prescribe the drug Seroquel thinking it had been approved for dementia treatment, according to The New York Times. This occurred even though the drug carried a "black box" warning that it was dangerous for elderly patients with dementia.
The researchers from the University of Chicago also found that the average physician could correctly identify FDA approval status for only half the drugs they were asked about, according to the Times. One concern is that there is less scientific support for off-label uses as FDA-approved uses, one report author said.