Off-Label Use: TIme Marches On

  • by: Peter Pitts |
  • 05/20/2017
In a recent Washington Post op-ed, Bill Schultz, the former deputy commissioner for policy of the Food and Drug Administration during the Clinton administration, incredulously offers that FDA policies developed 50 years ago are good enough for life in the 21st century (Trump’s new FDA commissioner has a huge decision to make). He’s wrong.

Time marches on and regulatory practices must evolve to better serve the public health. Nowhere is this more urgent than in making sure physicians and patients have unencumbered access to truthful accurate and non-misleading information about FDA-approved medicines –- both on and off-label. In a draft guidance, FDA notes that ‘‘good medical practice and the best interests of the patient require that physicians use legally available drugs, biologics and devices according to their best knowledge and judgment.’’ And, according to the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s 21st Century Cures Initiative, “… conversations between and among doctors, patients, researchers, and scientists in academia and industry should be facilitated. This includes the free flow of data, research, and results related to what a therapy or combination of therapies does or does not do well and in what types of patients.”

Off-label communications is about getting the right medicine to the right patient in the right dose at the right time.  Off-label communications advances both the practice of medicine and the safe and effective use of medicines.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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