Most drugs aren't designed with children in mind. They haven't been tested on the young, and the license prohibits their use among those under the age of 18 years.
And yet nearly 79 per cent of young people receive at least one drug that's been inappropriately prescribed, a new study has discovered.
This off-label prescribing, as it's called, accounts for around 40 per cent of a drug's revenues, researchers estimate.
They looked at the prescribing records from 31 children's hospitals in the USA for 2004. The most common drugs being prescribed off-label were those for treating gastro-intestinal problems and central nervous diseases.
Money spent on off-label prescribing amounted to $270.27m for the year, or 40 per cent of the total.
(Source: Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 2007; 161: 282-90).
E-news broadcast 31 May 2007 No.364