Off-label drug use needs strong oversight, researcher says.FDA FDA
Food and Drug Administration
n.pr See Food and Drug Administration.
n.pr the abbreviation for the Food and Drug Administration. draft guidelines for oversight of off-label drug use are a step in the wrong direction, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Randall Stafford, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center.
Stafford, in an editorial published in the April 3 issue of the "New England Journal of Medicine The New England Journal of Medicine (New Engl J Med or NEJM) is an English-language peer-reviewed medical journal published by the Massachusetts Medical Society. It is one of the most popular and widely-read peer-reviewed general medical journals in the world. ," contended that the new guidance would allow pharmaceutical companies to market more drugs for unapproved un·ap·proved
Not approved or sanctioned: an unapproved vaccine; an unapproved protest march. uses, "HealthDay News" reported.
It is common practice for doctors to use drugs off-label to treat medical conditions See carpal tunnel syndrome, computer vision syndrome, dry eyes and deep vein thrombosis. that are not included under the FDA approval, but what's known about the use of a drug for one condition may not apply to other situations, said Stafford. The use of anti-psychotics for dementia and the use of antidepressants Antidepressants
Medications prescribed to relieve major depression. Classes of antidepressants include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (fluoxetine/Prozac, sertraline/Zoloft), tricyclics (amitriptyline/ Elavil), MAOIs (phenelzine/Nardil), and heterocyclics in children are key examples, he noted.
Stafford doesn't believe FDA should start telling physicians how to practice, however. He said that physician judgment in such cases is critical, and off-label use Off-label use
A drug that is prescribed for uses, periods of time, or at dosages that are not FDA-approved.
Mentioned in: Antidepressant Drugs, SSRI
off-label use of drugs can be helpful in certain cases where patients don't respond to approved therapies.
"But in other cases, off-label prescribing has become first-line therapy even in the absence of strong evidence of benefits and safety. This is problematic," Stafford said. Such cases point to the need for a better method of evaluating and regulating off-label drug use, Stafford added. Ideally, a drug company would have to conduct additional studies and apply to FDA for supplemental approval for a new clinical use of drug.
Currently, drug makers can't overtly promote drugs for off-label use but can give doctors educational materials about such uses, most often in the form of published journal articles. This practice is permitted only if the drug maker submits the articles to FDA for review and is seeking formal FDA approval for the new use. However, FDA enforcement of these rules is limited, Stafford said.
The new draft guidelines eliminate both these requirements and replace remaining polices with nonbinding recommendations.
"The FDA may be conceding to drug manufacturers the responsibility for regulating their own off-label marketing practices. The agency may also believe that its limited resources can be put to better or more effective use in confronting other ongoing challenges. Nevertheless, I believe that the FDA must take an active role in fostering evidence-based practice, eliminating subversion sub·ver·sion
a. The act or an instance of subverting.
b. The condition of being subverted.
2. Obsolete A cause of overthrow or ruin. of the approval process, and requiring a balanced and fair presentation of the scientific evidence," Stafford wrote in the editorial.
Public comments on FDA's draft guidelines are being accepted through April 21.