Doctors don’t open up the prescription pads and start writing prescriptions for improper, unproven, and, sometimes, dangerous uses of powerful (and often grossly over-priced) drugs (emphasis added).
. . . an ever-growing segment of the American pharmaceutical business is eluding that rigorous scrutiny. Millions of patients are being given drugs by their doctors that the FDA hasn’t approved for treating their particular illnesses. Off-label prescribing, as it’s called, puts patients at risk while offering no assurance the drugs will work.
Drug companies encourage them to do it:
Eli Lilly & Co. pleaded guilty today to a criminal count of illegally marketing its powerful antipsychotic drug Zyprexa in a settlement that the federal government said will “send a message to Eli Lilly employees that they need to respect the law, not break it.”
The guilty plea in Philadelphia federal court had been expected since earlier this month, when the Indianapolis company agreed to a settlement that also included a $1.4 billion fine.
The Philadelphia U.S. Attorney’s office had charged Lilly with illegally promoting Zyprexa to treat dementia and Alzheimer’s in the elderly.
That’s the free, as in unfettered and unmonitored and conscienceless, hand of the market.
Chart of off-label drug marketing here.