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Off-label drug use becoming a dangerous epidemic

Beth was just 23 years old when an epilepsy drug shut down her kidneys and killed her.

But Beth wasn’t epileptic – and she may have never had a seizure in her life.

She was used as a human guinea pig in the largest medical experiment in American history. One that you or someone you love may be participating in right now without ever realizing it.

If you’re taking a prescription drug, there’s now a one-in-five chance it’s been prescribed “off label.” That means it was never approved – or maybe even tested – for the condition you’re treating.

And nobody knows for sure what’s going to happen until you swallow the pill.

It’s part of a medical loophole called “off label” prescribing that I’ve warned you about before and that is making Big Pharma billions.

But an alarming new study proves it’s become an epidemic – and the risks to you and the people you care about are worse than we’ve ever been told.

Risky business

Would you take a Third World malaria drug – one that can cause an irregular heartbeat and could even leave you blind – just to treat restless leg syndrome?

Of course not!

But if you’ve been prescribed medication for the annoying cramping and twitching of RLS, there’s a good chance that’s exactly what you got. The malaria pill quinine sulfate has now become one of the most popular RLS meds on the market today.

It’s all thanks to off-label prescribing, which allows docs to prescribe FDA-approved meds for any unapproved use they want – even if the science behind those drugs wouldn’t pass muster in a high school science class.

And the results can be dangerous – or even downright deadly, like in the case of Beth, who ended up on an off-label epilepsy drug to treat a simple case of irritability.

A research team from the US and Canada recently looked at the medical histories for 46,000 patients and found that when you take a drug off label, your chances of a serious side effect skyrocket by a shocking 50 percent.

And you can bet that’s just the tip of the iceberg, because in America doctors don’t have to disclose when they’re prescribing a drug off label.

For example, risky antipsychotics are regularly given to kids for ADHD and autism. Dangerous antibiotics have been prescribed to teens for acne, and antidepressants (with known suicide risks in kids) have been commonly prescribed to children to help them get to sleep at night.

And the problem is only going to get worse.

This summer I told you about a court ruling saying a drug manufacturer has a First Amendment right to claim just about anything it wants about its products. So it looks like drug salesmen can now pitch off-label prescribing on the FDA’s doorstep if they care to.

Listen, by now you know that I don’t exactly put the FDA’s stamp of approval right up there with the Good Housekeeping seal. For years our government has done almost nothing to protect us from dangerous drugs and vaccines like Vioxx and Gardasil with horrifying side effects.

But taking a medication off label turns us all into lab rats. And in lots of cases, docs have been prescribing drugs off label for so long that they don’t even realize they’re not approved – or may even be dangerous.

Your best bet is always to read drug labels carefully and to check the FDA’s database for approval histories on any medications you’re taking.

You may be in for quite a surprise. But it’s better to get the information now, before you swallow that next pill.