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Questions to Ask Your Doctor About `Off-label' Prescriptions

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If your doctor has prescribed a drug for a purpose that the Food and Drug Administration hasn't approved, find out why. Here are some questions to ask:

What is the doctor's reason for prescribing the off-label treatment? Has the doctor researched the medical literature and does it support this use with large, controlled clinical trials? If not, what is the evidence for this use?

Are there FDA-approved alternatives? Why aren't they being prescribed instead?

All drugs carry risks of side effects, some more than others. Ask your doctor: Do I really need this prescription? What are the alternatives to this therapy? What are the risks and benefits? What is the lowest dose and shortest period I can take this drug?

Educate yourself about all side effects. Don't rely on the leaflet your pharmacy provides; it may be incomplete. Detailed information about side effects is in the drug's FDA-approved label, available at pharmacies or on the Web.


(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

(C) 2003 Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.. All Rights Reserved

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