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      Off-label prescriptions in intensive care unit: the Chinese experience

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          Abstract

          Background and purpose

          Off-label prescriptions for critically ill patients pose several ethical and legal dilemmas for intensive care unit (ICU) clinicians. Yet, few data are available on the prevalence of this practice in critical care environment in China. This nationwide survey was performed to evaluate the conditions of off-label prescriptions in ICU within China.

          Methods

          The survey was performed at the scene of the national ICU conferences in 2016. ICU clinicians attending the congress from 23 provinces across the country were invited. The features of the clinician’s off-label prescription practice were investigated and analyzed.

          Results

          A total of 1,318 ICU clinicians completed the anonymous questionnaire. Of these, 76.2% prescribed off-label in clinical practice. A significant difference ( p<0.005) was observed between the ICU clinicians with different years of working experience and professional levels, respectively. For 69.2% of the ICU clinicians, the proportion of off-label prescriptions did not exceed 10%, while for fewer prescribers (2.9%), the proportion exceeded 25%. The main reasons for off-label prescriptions were life-threatening or terminal medical condition without other substitutes (48.3%), new treatments with strong scientific evidence (38.1%), and limited indications of drug labels (22.7%). Of the ICU clinicians surveyed, 87.5% worried about causing medical disputes, and 26.5% encountered medical disputes caused by off-label prescriptions. The risk of medical disputes was positively associated with the proportion of off-label prescriptions ( p=0.009). Among the ICU clinicians, 92.5% expected the national policy for off-label prescriptions in future. Gastrointestinal and respiratory drug classes were noted to have the highest prevalence of off-label use.

          Conclusion

          Off-label prescriptions have been commonly practiced by ICU clinicians in China. A concerted effort should be made to develop a practical and explicit guidance for off-label prescriptions.

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          Most cited references 21

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          Off-label prescribing among office-based physicians.

          Unlike medicines prescribed for Food and Drug Administration-approved indications, off-label uses may lack rigorous scientific scrutiny. Despite concerns about patient safety and costs to the health care system, little is known about the frequency of off-label drug use or the degree of scientific evidence supporting this practice. We used nationally representative data from the 2001 IMS Health National Disease and Therapeutic Index (NDTI) to define prescribing patterns by diagnosis for 160 commonly prescribed drugs. Each reported drug-diagnosis combination was identified as Food and Drug Administration-approved, off-label with strong scientific support, or off-label with limited or no scientific support. Outcome measures included (1) the proportion of uses that were off-label and (2) the proportion of off-label uses supported by strong scientific evidence. Multivariate analyses were used to identify drug-specific characteristics predictive of increased off-label use. In 2001, there were an estimated 150 million (95% confidence interval, 127-173 million) off-label mentions (21% of overall use) among the sampled medications. Off-label use was most common among cardiac medications (46%, excluding antihyperlipidemic and antihypertensive agents) and anticonvulsants (46%), whereas gabapentin (83%) and amitriptyline hydrochloride (81%) had the greatest proportion of off-label use among specific medications. Most off-label drug mentions (73%; 95% confidence interval, 61%-84%) had little or no scientific support. Although several functional classes were associated with increased off-label use (P<.05), few other drug characteristics predicted off-label prescription. Off-label medication use is common in outpatient care, and most occurs without scientific support. Efforts should be made to scrutinize underevaluated off-label prescribing that compromises patient safety or represents wasteful medication use.
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            Ten common questions (and their answers) about off-label drug use.

            The term off-label drug use (OLDU) is used extensively in the medical literature, continuing medical education exercises, and the media. Yet, we propose that many health care professionals have an underappreciation of its definition, prevalence, and implications. This article introduces and answers 10 questions regarding OLDU in an effort to clarify the practice's meaning, breadth of application, acceptance, and liabilities. Off-label drug use involves prescribing medications for indications, or using a dosage or dosage form, that have not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Since the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the practice of medicine, OLDU has become common. It occurs in every specialty of medicine, but it may be more common in areas of medicine in which the patient population is less likely to be included in clinical trials (eg, pediatric, pregnant, or psychiatric patients). Pharmaceutical companies are not allowed to promote their medications for an off-label use, which has lead to several large settlements for illegal marketing. To limit liability, physicians should prescribe medications only for indications that they believe are in the best interest of the patient. In addition, health care professionals should educate themselves about OLDU to weigh the risks and benefits and provide the best possible care for their patients. Copyright © 2012 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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              Off-label and unlicensed drug prescribing in three paediatric wards in Finland and review of the international literature.

              In paediatric pharmacotherapy, many drugs are prescribed to be given in ways and for conditions not approved in the marketing authorization (MA). Thus, off-label prescribing of drugs with no MA is widespread in paediatric wards. However, drug MA status and clinical practices differ across countries. In this prospective study, we studied the prescribing of off-label and unlicensed drugs in three paediatric wards in a tertiary hospital in Finland. Furthermore, we reviewed previous published studies to provide an up-to-date international perspective on prescribing of off-label and unlicensed drugs for hospitalized children. During a 2-week period, prescriptions for patients under 18 years of age (median age 1*6 years) in three wards; neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), general paediatric ward and paediatric surgical ward were recorded daily and drug-licensing status of all prescriptions was determined according to the approved summary of product characteristics. Published studies were retrieved through electronic searches, including MEDLINE (PubMed). Of the 141 children, 108 received 629 prescriptions. Of the 108 children with a prescription, 82 (76%) had at least one off-label or unlicensed drug prescribed; 79% in the NICU, 63% in the general ward and 91% in the surgical ward (P = 0*014). Of the 108 children with a prescription, 26 (24%) received prescriptions for licensed drugs, 71 (66%) received prescriptions off-label and 36 (33%) for unlicensed drugs. Of all 629 prescriptions, 321 (51%) were for licensed drugs, 226 (36%) for off-label and 82 (13%) for unlicensed drugs. International studies showed similar extents of off-label and unlicensed-drug prescribing. This study indicates that the use of off-label and unlicensed drugs is widespread in all the different paediatric wards surveyed and was as extensive as those reported for other countries.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Ther Clin Risk Manag
                Ther Clin Risk Manag
                Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management
                Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management
                Dove Medical Press
                1176-6336
                1178-203X
                2018
                31 January 2018
                : 14
                : 195-202
                Affiliations
                Department of Pharmacy, The First Affiliated Hospital, College of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, People’s Republic of China
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Sai-Ping Jiang, The First Affiliated Hospital, College of Medicine, Zhejiang University, 79 Qingchun Road, Hangzhou 310003, People’s Republic of China, Tel +86 571 8723 6675, Email j5145@ 123456126.com
                [*]

                These authors contributed equally to this work

                Article
                tcrm-14-195
                10.2147/TCRM.S146425
                5797469
                © 2018 Liu et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

                Categories
                Original Research

                Medicine

                off-label prescriptions, intensive care unit, questionnaire, chinese hospitals

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