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Extent, reasons and consequences of off-labeled and unlicensed drug prescription in hospitalized children: a narrative review 
 
Extent, reasons and consequences of off-labeled and unlicensed drug prescription in hospitalized children: a narrative review
  Wasim Shuib, Xin-Yin Wu, Fang Xiao
 [Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF]   Pageviews: 660 Times
 
Background: Off-label and unlicensed prescriptions pose a severe safety concern among the pediatric population. We aimed to summarize the up-to-date evidence on the extent, reasons, and consequences of off-label and unlicensed drugs in hospitalized pediatric patients.
Methods: We systematically searched PubMed, EMBASE, SCOPUS, Web of Science and Google Scholar between 1990 and 2020 in which the last search was conducted on 12 February 2021. We included studies with the following inclusion criteria: (1) observational studies in design; (2) target population was hospitalized pediatric patients whether admitted in the intensive care unit or in the general ward; (3) study reporting the prevalence of off-label, unlicensed prescriptions or both; and (4) published in English.
Results: A total of 47 studies were eligible for inclusion. The proportion of off -label and unlicensed prescriptions ranged from 7.4% to 99.5% and 0.1% to 74.4%, respectively. The most frequent category of off-label prescriptions was prescription outside the age range, with the most commonly reported reason for off-label prescriptions being the lack of information specifically for pediatrics on the drug information leaflets. The consequences of off-label and unlicensed prescriptions ranged from minor and bearable skin reactions to debilitating renal failure, risking deaths.
Conclusions: Off-label and unlicensed prescriptions are extensive and require progressively meditative interventions. However, the pediatric population is currently a ¡°therapeutic orphan¡±. Unless adequate pediatric clinical trials and licensed drugs become available, off-label and unlicensed drug prescription should not entirely be banned but rather promoted in an organized manner.
 
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