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Report Finds Severe Adverse Effects of Off-Label Atypical Drug Use

Our Illinois medical malpractice lawyers believe that it is incumbent upon medical professionals to keep up to date on the latest information about the efficacy of their treatments. Of course, it is vital that patients not be exposed to certain drugs or procedures that at one-time might have been thought helpful, only for researchers to later learn that they actually posed unnecessary risks. This rule should also apply to properly balancing the potential risks of a treatment plan with the possible benefit. Patients rightly rely upon the expertise of their medical professionals when deciding that a particular course of treatment has more upside than downside. If doctors are wrong or mislead patients on that balance, then that trust is broken.

For example, studies continue to pour in on the dangers posed to patients who were prescribed atypical antipsychotic drugs for “off-label” uses. These drugs are often prescribed to elderly patients-like those with dementia-but patients of all ages can suffer harm as a result of these prescriptions. The “off label” use refers to those purposes not specifically provided for or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

According to Medscape, a new analysis of more than 150 efficacy trials of these drugs showed that at least 200 adverse outcomes were common in those who took the medications-including death. The lead author of the study found that the beneficial outcomes for all patents-including those with dementia-were slightly smaller than they expected. She also noted that they found virtually no effect for a wide variety of conditions that these medications are used to treat. The author explained that this latest effort was the largest of its kind of should prompt clinicians in all situations to reconsider the way they prescribe atypical antipsychotic drugs.

This information is no surprise to any medical malpractice lawyer who has worked with patients who were given these drugs. It has long been suggested that the widespread prescriptions of these drugs was dangerous. The atypical antipsychotics are approved by the FDA only to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression under specific circumstances. Unfortunately, medical professionals have gone way beyond those initial, approved uses to treat things like dementia, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, posttraumatic stress, and substance abuse. These off-label uses have grown exponentially as of late, far outpacing use of the medication for reasons actually approved by federal regulators. Many doctors feel that if a drug works for one thing, it might work for something else. While this is occasionally true, it also runs the risk of creating more problems than it causes.

Our Chicago malpractice attorneys urge all patients to be aware of each and every medication they are prescribed. It is important for patients to take an active role in the care that they receive to help guard against medical errors and oversights. By asking questions about the drugs they are given and keeping up with the specific use of the medication, local residents can best ensure that they are receiving only the drugs that will help them and not those that are unnecessary or dangerous.

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