List Of Drugs Commonly Used Off Label

Off-label use of drug

Off-label prescriptions for psychiatric drugs had scientific support only 4% of the time.

When doctors prescribe drugs for use other than those approved by the FDA, they are said to be off-label use of drugs. Most physicians prescribe drugs off-label and this is accepted as legal in the United States. Drugs with multiple uses can be used for treating patients without having to wait for years for research and studies to prove the same.

Some of the drugs that are often prescribed for off-label use include:

Specific Drugs

Examples of Off-Label Use

Aripiprazole (Abilify, antipsychotic)

Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease
Albuterol (for asthma) Bad coughs
Lamictal (antiepileptic, anti-seizure) Depression, bipolar disorder, mood stabilization
Tiagabine (Gabitril, anti-seizure) Depression, mood stabilization
Gabapentin (Neurontin, anti-seizure) Depression, nerve pain, migraines
Topiramate (Topamax, anti-seizure) Migraines, bipolar disorder, depression, nerve pain
Risperidone (Risperdal, antipsychotic) Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, eating disorders
Lidoderm (skin patch for shingles) Lower back pain, sore muscles, tennis elbow
Trazodone (Desyrel, antidepressant) As a sleep aid and for insomnia
Propranolol (Inderal, high blood pressure and heart disease) Performance anxiety
Modafinil (Provigil for excessive sleepiness) To enhance wakefulness and alertness
Viagra (erectile dysfunction) To enhance sexual performance in people not diagnosed with erectile dysfunction

While off-label drug use has many positive reports, there are negative sides too. Use of aspirin for preventing a second heart attack and use of statins for lowering heart disease risk in diabetes are instances where off-label use of drugs has been tremendously successful. This is just one side of the story. There are instances where unapproved use of drugs have proved to be dangerous.

According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, of the 725 million prescriptions written in 2001,

  • 21% were off-label drugs.
  • 73% of the off-label drugs were prescribed for ailments that had no supporting scientific evidence.

The use of Aranesp, Procrit and Epogen for treating anemia caused by cancer is a glaring example of off-label drug use going wrong. Chemotherapy causes anemia in patients and these drugs were administered to improve energy levels. Very soon, doctors started prescribing these drugs to cancer patients who were not undergoing chemotherapy. The result was that cancer became worse in some patients and a higher death rate was observed.

Exercising caution is always advised where off-label drug use is concerned; a thorough information regarding the drug should be collected from the physician and the need for the use established prior to beginning with the treatment.

About the Author