[Warning] Should you really fill that Rx?
When you fill that Rx, do you know what that drug you’re going to take is really for?
Not why your doctor gave it to you, but what the pharma company got it approved to do?
Because there is a good chance the two things are miles apart.
It’s called off-label prescribing.
It’s a dream come true for Big Pharma…but it can be a nightmare for you.
Because once the FDA approves a drug — even highly risky, mind-altering meds — doctors can prescribe it at will.
And studies are showing that a whopping 1 in 5 prescriptions are written for “off-label” use.
The pitching of a drug for an unapproved use to doctors has cost drug makers billions in fines over the years. It’s one of the biggest no-no’s there is in pharma land.
But it still goes on all the time, in a secret hush, hush, wink, wink kind of way.
That’s how doctors learn about these “novel” uses for drugs. Their drug reps “tell” them that a certain drug has been “found” to help a certain condition.
And when you hear what kinds of drugs I’m talking about, you’ll be shocked.
Here are some examples of what has come out of those secret meetings.
- Dangerous anti-seizure meds are given out for headaches, depression and nerve pains.
- Highly risky antipsychotics are prescribed for Alzheimer’s disease and even given to children for ADHD and autism!
- Anxiety drugs are being used to treat stress and for insomnia.
- Risky beta-blockers, which were approved by the FDA for heart disease, are prescribed for migraines and anxiety.
- Cancer drugs are being used to treat macular degeneration.
And most who are given these dangerous, powerful drugs have no idea what they were meant to treat in the first place. Like a Canadian teen who was prescribed a strong antibiotic for acne. Or a young woman diagnosed with “irritability” whose doctor gave her a risky med used for convulsions.
Both died from the side effects of these drugs. The kinds of drugs that should only be reserved for the most serious of conditions, but that are haphazardly given out for things like acne, stress and insomnia.
But one of the most tragic examples of these off-label “experiments” sadly involves our troops.
For years the AstraZeneca antipsychotic drug Seroquel, which was approved by the FDA for bipolar disorder, depression and schizophrenia, was given out like Tootsie Rolls to servicemen and women for insomnia and PTSD.
The numbers of prescriptions for Seroquel exploded, with the VA spending over $125 million for the drug in just one year!
One victim of the Seroquel off-label game was Marine Cpl. Andrew White. He was only 23 when he died in his sleep after being prescribed a lethal cocktail of anti-depressants, including Seroquel, to treat PTSD.
His parents later learned that many other young men and women died suddenly while on the same meds.
So they decided to fight. And they won. The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) removed Seroquel from it approved drug list.
Now, CENTCOM doctors must get a special waiver anytime they write an Rx for Seroquel.
So that’s one victory — but it’s for just one drug.
And since your doctor is allowed to prescribe any FDA-approved drug he wants for any condition, you need to be careful.
Whenever you get an Rx, ask if it’s for an off-label use. If it is, find out what the drug was approved for before you take that first pill.
Look, taking drugs “on label” is dangerous enough. But off-label use takes the risk to a whole new dimension.
“That prescription might not have been tested for your ailment” Patti Neighmond, NPR, npr.org
“Dangers of off-label drug use kept secret” David Bruser, Jesse McLean, Andrew Bailey, Toronto Star, thestar.com